Friday Flash Fiction – New Year’s Resignation (Sci-Fi)

Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff Fields

Light rained down upon the cheering crowds, each color exhaling with sensation.  A boy and girl stood on the fringe of people.  They ducked beneath a metal canopy with each star burst, avoiding the liquid light that coated the others.

“We have to get out now.  Before the control effects kick in for the year.”

The girl shook a spark from the back of her hand, frowning.  Yes, the annual medical conformity celebration.  The spark burned and spread.

“Right…Just come out and see this last explosion.”

The boy looked up and his heart sank.

Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the Friday Fictioneers!  Each Friday brings a new photo prompt and the challenge to write a story in just 100 words.  Follow the group on FaceBook or via Twitter – #FridayFictioneers.  Please visit more Fictioneers for some Friday Flash fun!

Friday Flash – “Reconnaissance”

  The branches, like fingers clutching at the sky, flashed white in the seconds it took for the explosion to rock their hiding place.  The early dawn would blow their cover soon enough.  Whistler motioned his men to the right, while he crawled to the ridge for a closer look.

The machinery spread below was twisted and alien, its claws drilling into the earth that had once sheltered the herds.  It would soon break into the colony that honeycombed beneath the surface.  Whistler gave a nod to his team, and raced back to warn the queen.

This week’s photo prompt is from Madison Woods’ site for the #FridayFictioneers.  Check out the other Flash Fiction, and comment or link your story!

Madison graciously provides us with a photo prompt each week, but there are many ways to get inspiration for 100 words.  Here are 10 Ideas for Flash Fiction Writing Prompts from Flash Fiction Chronicles…

Shuffle It

Write a story based on the next song that you hear on your mp3 player.  Use the lyrics, beat, and instruments to generate a story idea.

What Do You See?

Use a photo from your collection, or try a random Google image or Flickr search.

Get Nostalgic

Take out your old scrapbooks and photo albums and get some inspiration from the past.

Ask “What If…”

Spend some time imagining “what if” possibilities, such as “What if I could travel in time? Where would I want to travel?” or “What if I could talk to any person who has died?

The Saying Goes …

Think of an old expression such as “The early bird gets the worm” or “Penny wise and pound foolish” and write a story about it.

Whittle it Down

Think of your favorite movie, book or short story.  Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction.

Change Your Point of View

Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?

Imagine the Possibilities

Imagine a wrapped box. You open it. What’s inside? Write a story about what you discover.

Random Words

Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.

Let Computers Do it For You

If you’re still stumped for ideas, try a random story idea generator, such as this one. There are also character and name generators available, which could also offer inspiration.

Genre or Pigeonhole?

An interesting discussion recently transpired in the Off the Shelf book discussion group over on Goodreads.  The goal of the group is to read books in a different genre, or category, each month – hopefully expanding our reader horizons and enabling us to find new directions to take our literary journeys.

What was surprising about the discussion was how passionately people feel about their favorite types of books, and the hidden prejudices we hold for those genres we deem unworthy of our time.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of genre, consider the scientific community’s practice of classifying every living thing.  You have your vertebrates and invertebrates (fiction and nonfiction).  And within those two broad categories are multiple sub-categories – mammals, birds, fish, insects, etc. (romance, mystery, western, sci-fi).  Then, within each

sub-category, are sub-sub-categories – cows, dogs, giraffes, and so on (detective mystery, cozy mystery, crime thriller).

When you start looking at a list of your most frequently read kind of books, a distinctive genre appears.; this one migrates to historical romances, that one can’t resist a dystopian science fiction, and who doesn’t love a little steampunk?

One Off the Shelf member remarked, “I agree that genres are in place for the very reason of grouping them within a certain number of constraints making them what they are. And therefore we find ourselves attracted to reading certain genres for the needs and expectations we have. ”

  What needs or expectations – perhaps previously unknown to you – do you have that seeks its fulfillment in your choice of reading material?

  But what about crossover books – the ones that could just as easily be classified in two distinct genres?  Or those that shatter the whole idea of what a genre is supposed to be?  Yes, it’s a marketing department’s nightmare, and every librarian’s headache.  However, genres do help us locate potential “friends” (like for bibliophiles).

  Shelf member, Paula, says, “I tend to read a book with the genre in mind, for instance, if it’s YA, then I don’t expect the level of complexity that I would find in an adult novel. Again, however, that preconception is being challenged with the new crop of authors writing such awesome works like Harry Potter and others. My one criteria for a new book/author is: was I entertained and/or informed? “

Dr. Timothy Spurgin notes that “as writers have become more and more interested in crossing boundaries and mixing genres, publishers and booksellers seem to have grown more and more determined to use genres as marketing devices.”

What?  Our beloved books have fallen victim to the insatiable machinery of advertising?  Yup, ‘fraid so. Think about the hidden messages your local bookseller is sending you.  Sections are clearly marked in the store (segregation is alive and well), and posters blare their message of the New Bestseller/Mystery/Thriller/Horror.

The cover of the book (sometimes multiple versions) are designed with you in mind.  (Ever notice how a book gets re-issued after its movie version comes out, with a new cover featuring the stars?)  Like a bit of beefcake?  That pose was meant for you.  Want to project a refined and educated image?  Reading this book with the fake leather look and script font will do the trick.

So in the end, does genre even matter?  If we’re going to be manipulated by media and misled by tricky crossover authors, does genre even have a place in modern reading – or is it destined to be a relic, as champions of digital publishing predict paper books to be?

As another Shelf member stated, “…if you enjoy it, what does it matter if it ends up not being the genre you expected.”

Reader Tip: Try reading only  the first sentence of a book, and identify the clues to genre that are provided.  Is a real or fantastical place name given?  Is the language explanatory, snide, full of action?  What isn’t being said?  How does the first sentence set your expectations for what is to come?

(See one reader’s opinion on the Top Thirteen Best First Sentences…)

  What are your favorite genres – and why?  Does genre influence your choice of a book?  For instance, if a book looks interesting, but is clearly in the fantasy (or romance or western) section, would you pass it by?

Related Articles:

The Art of Reading

A Word About Authors

Narrators & Characters, or Who’s Telling This Story, Anyway?

The World is Round – People Are Flat

Description, or Contemplating Your Navel

The Plot Thickens…Or Does It?