I realised just how much I love reading and writing flash fiction. I love the way that in such a small space, with so few words, you can tell a story. A.S. Patric proves just how powerful pieces of flash fiction can be. And it's challenging. You don't have time and plot leaads to reel your reader in. If they aren't in from the start, they aren't in at all.
I have another writer friend, Rafael S.W who is on the editorial committee for Express Media, who writers wonderful flash fiction, some of which I have been fortunate enough to read.
So what is Flash Fiction?
- Fiction between 300-1000 words.
- As with most modern writing, there are no rules in flash fiction.
- It's usually a small idea that shows complexity, or something larger.
- There are usually no plot or character set ups. The reader is just thrown in.
- Flash fiction could be a conversation, an image or a thought.
Here is a piece of flash fiction I wrote last year while on a weekend writers retreat (Rafael was also there writing flash fiction). I knew the sentence I wanted to start with, and a metaphor I wanted to describe and I went from there. I didn't know how long the piece was going to be. I just wrote and let it take on a life of its own. It turned out to be 402 words.
She was here
This is how she is dying. It’s cold and then the bullet penetrates her chest. It settles in the part of her that pulsates, warming in her body like sex, and she starts to leak. They carry her through turbulence on a jagged stretcher, her red confetti dripping on trampled sand, and they take her away.
It started as love. No, it started as two soldiers who only ‘saw’ each other once they’d lost their uniforms. She cried the first time their skins had touched. He’d shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘this is me’, and she’d fallen into him. His body was soft and curled around her like a baby gripping a finger. He was everything, now, that as a soldier, he wasn’t.
The war receded in their fusion. Champagne bottles replaced pops of grenades and colour coated their memories of military green. Soon they were caught in a different kind of insanity; an obsession that was beyond the choice of love. She was distracted. When he wasn’t there she wrote him letters, and even when together, she’d think about being with him. They’d go for walks down the same streets over and over. They’d name things that didn’t have names and then laugh at themselves. They created their own world around them.
They made love moving quickly in each other, their hands grabbing firm at faces, hair and torsos, not knowing where to touch and wanting to touch everywhere. They found each other’s scars, traced them and moved harder. After, she wished it were slower, the way romantic sex is meant to be. But he holds her tighter after each time, leans his head against hers and breathes hard, his lips lingering near hers. Then he gives her the necklace he always wore, a bullet on a dirty chain and it sits between her breasts.
She forgets about the war and it finds her when she’s lost without him on a paved street near the desert. She was remembering the way they first kissed, and the feel of him pressing himself against her. Then the war comes, bullets fire and shells fall through the smoke. Soldiers take her away, her body leaking the dregs of her love on a military green stretcher. Winter starts to arrive and the warmth of her fades.
She was here, he thinks after. She was here, and then she was gone.
The story is based off truth, in a metaphoric sense.
So has anyone written flash fiction?
What are your thoughts on flash fiction?
I challenge everyone to write a story between 300 and 1000 words.