Flash fiction in fewer than 140 characters

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To clarify … last weekend, I was alerted to a flash-lit-fiction slam to be held in Brighton, England, on Sept. 11, co-sponsored by ParagraphPlanet.com‘s Richard Hearn (DistractedDad on Twitter). Details at his PP site.

The challenge: Tweet a complete story in 133 characters (saving room for the required hashtag of #flf11, which steals seven, with the space, grrr).

At his urging, I submitted, but all five of mine suck (this is hard!), yet the deadline isn’t over. So when I call myself a flash-fiction virgin … well, not anymore, #TuesdayTales has spoiled me … but, see, I wasn’t counting these, which haven’t been judged yet, as the event unrolls Sunday, still time to play! Simply include the hashtag #flf11 in your tweets — open topics (which is why it doesn’t really count as flash fiction, in my mind, which en-tales [sic] prompting). 

Go ahead, Twitter peeps. Whet your appetite for lightning-round, minuscule manuscripting. You can beat this drivel:

Inspector No. 14, Otis, is having a bad day. Must reconnoiter. He slackens a smidge, loosens a screw. There. Another happy accident. #flf11

She could still change her mind. Priest, gawkers, the tux-clad brute await word. Tossing her posies too soon, a faint no-o escapes.#flf11

UPDATE: The following tweet made it to the final round!

The day’s dullsville for dogwalker Don ’til a drab-brown mound stirs. He lobs the sacrificial pug into the bear’s yawning doom. Yelp! #flf11

At 09:37, a commuter with top clearance spied a fireball, whiffed burnt flesh, verified reports, about-faced to the links. Tee time. #flf11

(That last one is inspired by a friend who did, actually, go golfing on 9/11 after glimpsing the Pentagon chaos. No names, you know who you are.)

A newfound flash-fiction addiction

By day, I make headlines. And by “by day,” I mean “by night.”

Recently I got bit by the flash-fiction bug — like writing a headline on deadline, only meatier. Most contests, though, had too-long lead times. Needed it quick and dirty.

Yesterday, I found my fix via #TuesdayTales on Twitter. (Its host is a fellow wordpress blogger, at glitterword.wordpress.com). The simple rules: Write 100 words. Incorporate “bellwether.” Take a cue from attached photo. GO! I had 20 minutes before my shift. Below is what burbled out.

What’s great about this exercise is you have no clue where it will take you until you’re done, like a sprinter against a stopwatch. This is better than Facebook SCRABBLE or iPhone’s Words With Friends, people. Prompts can be addictive. Just as I’m ever curious what kind of headline someone else might put on the same story I’m editing, this is an opportunity to see how other minds interpret the same stimuli.

And guess what? Somehow, I was judged a winner, but visit the site — many masterful entries. (I have tweaked it here slightly because, yeah, can’t help but edit.)

Entrants were given this prompt photo to accompany the piece.

Theirs was no balcony scene from Shakespeare.

Harold fired up the briquettes, pretending to host a summer soiree at the precise moment Ruby cleared her stop, bus doors squegeeing shut another grueling day at the diner, white wedgies sponging the sidewalk, leftovers leaking from foil inside her gripsack.

“You should join us, neighbor!” he bellowed, too eagerly.

She squinted upward. Crikes, who said that?

No bellwether of fashion in plaid plum smugglers, he swatted air in a grand wave, forgetting his grip on the lighter fluid. Sparks snaked into a fireball.

Later, at the shelter, ’twas a night to remember.

100 words
@terryism

The judge — author, award-winning screenwriter and writing coach Ami Hendrickson — gave this flattering review. I’m only repeating it here for the benefit of my 80-year-old mother, because she subscribes to my blog and wouldn’t know where to find it otherwise (Hi, Mom!).

”I loved reading these entries. There were so many good pieces that I ended up focusing on writing-craft things to narrow the field. I made myself get nitpicky about things like spelling, grammar, and word redundancy just to help whittle down the contenders. Sadly, this affected some of my first-glance favorites. But it helped me make my decision.” ~MuseInks

WINNER:

“I love the sights, sounds, and set-up here. This piece combines both pathos and humor in a memorable way.  It quickly places the reader in the thick of the action. The piece moves. It’s bold, active, and rife with robust, lively words. It also packs a punch at the end that makes the reader revisit the beginning and see it in a different light.

“Furthermore, this piece contains my favorite use of the Secret Word. “You’re no bellwether of fashion” may well become a catch phrase of mine.

“Well done!” ~Museinks the judgemaster has spoken!

@terryism

Mommy Byrne

Winner has received an edit & critique of the first chapter of their manuscript (up to 20 pages) and a critique of their synopsis.

Uh-oh, better get writing …