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Gone In A Flash

March 16th, 2018

I don’t consider myself to be a ‘flasher.’ In fact, when I first heard the words ‘flash fiction’, I didn’t know what was meant. I’d seen something (on Twitter probably) called ‘Bath Flash’ and thought it was a cleaning product rather than a writing competition. But I was intrigued. I wanted to know what it was.

I discovered flash fiction is stories under 1000 words. It goes smaller. Some flash says 500 words or less, other flash hovers around the 300-word mark. Then there are Drabbles: 100 words or less. Some micro-fiction goes further. Whatever the miniscule word count, I was struck by the challenge of writing a complete story in so few words and thought I’d give it a go.

I wasn’t very good and still don’t find it easy. Each *word* has to earn its place. First and last lines are crucial. The title has to work especially hard. I’ve spent days agonising over a word or a title, but I know people who write flash in one sitting. I sometimes use flash if I’m stuck while writing a longer story. If I get stuck, I try writing it as a couple of different flash pieces to figure out the way forward.

The story I wrote for Writers’ Bureau, Balloons, started life as rambling long story which didn’t work. I edited it down into a short story, but it still wasn’t quite right. I honed it down even further, to flash to discover its core. Now I had a flash story I was happy with as well as a short story that I could finish writing.  As luck would have it, both pieces were accepted – the separate short story was published with The Nottingham Review.

Flash fiction is wildly popular now. There are loads of competitions, lit mags and eZines that want flash. The Second Annual Flash Fiction Festival takes place in Bath in July this year and National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) is 16 June. I’d encourage every writer to try their hand at writing flash. NFFD is the perfect opportunity to send something in. It’s free, a good challenge and a great way to get a piece of work out quickly and receive a response. A flash piece of writing can even be the seed of a short story or grow into a novel. It happens!

NFFD are currently looking for stories of up to 500 words for their anthology and 100 word stories for their competition.

Details for both are here. Why not give it a go?

 

Sherry came 3rd in the 2017 NFFD’s 100-word competition with her story ‘As Liquid is Poured’. She recently won the Bangor Literary Magazine 40-word competition with her micro-story ‘Reckoning Day’. Sherry lives in the Scottish Highlands where she goes for long walks, admires clouds and dreams up stories. Her published writing can be found on www.uksherka.com 

She also tweets on @Uksherka)

 

 

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