I’m sorry to be posting late but I was busy scrambling to write a flash fiction story last night for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Flash Fiction is short fiction, anything under 1,000 words. Some contests only allow fiction that is 55 words. Flash Fiction is tricky, but fun to try. It makes you think twice about every word choice because you have a limited amount of space to tell your story. One of the first short stories I was ever proud of sprung from a Flash Fiction exercise in college. We could only use 500 words. It wasn’t much to brag about in the first draft, but it led me to a great story.
One of the most famous flash fiction stories was written by Ernest Hemingway and it is only six words, but those six words are potent and powerful.
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
One of the best books I’ve read in the last year was an anthology of six-word teen memoirs from Smith magazine. You can check out a bunch of funny, devastating and amazing memoirs here.
The NYC Midnight competition groups all the contestants and each writer is given a genre, a location and an object. My genre was open, my location was a butcher shop and my item was a block of ice. At first I was excited that I could write in any genre I wanted, but as I was trying to think of a story, I started to wish I had some more parameters.
As someone who was a vegetarian for many years, I wasn’t stoked to write about a butcher shop. However, after a couple of hours of research I found myself grounded in a particular character, but I still didn’t know what his story was. Then I started writing dialogue where this character recognizes a woman in his shop as the girl who killed his father decades before.
I love when that happens. I often doubt that another idea will show up for me to write, but what I learned again last night is that the ideas always appear if I am connected and committed to the process.
There will be another round of the contest in late September. I’ll be given a new genre, location and item to write about. I almost decided not to participate. I’m glad I changed my mind 🙂
If you haven’t ever tried flash fiction, give it a try. You might be inspired and intrigued with what you come up with.