Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Short Fiction OR I Suck at Economy

As part of Rachael Harries Platform Building Campaign, we're doing some flashing.
I've never done flash fiction before. Seems awfully newfangled to me. And anyway, I've always been terrified of short stories. Writing them well seems so difficult, employing an economy and elegance I just don't come by naturally.

The rules are to start with "The door swung open." and hopefully, end with "The door swung shut." Extra points for having both and being exactly 200 words. I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of that, but I'll give it a go.

When I'm stuck in my wip, or just want to understand a character or situation better, I write a scene about them- a scene that will never be in the book. This is really liberating especially since my POV is first person. In these 'exploration' scenes I can really let loose. So the below is a snippet of a 'deleted' scene.

I'd love to know what you think. I'd also like to know, what do you think of writing short stories/flash fiction? Can anyone do it, or is it a special talent?

Update: I think I was supposed to say that you can 'like' my entry here. I'm number 196. thanks!

Rachel Sew and the Gold Man

     The door swung open and Rachel stopped dead. It was only the black cat she sometimes fed, come for more scraps. It was well past dusk and the gold man was late. He’d said to leave her things behind, but it pained her so. On the day she’d been made, she’d been given clothes, a word locket, a home and a living. But it was a long time before she could barter for things she chose herself.
     The first time she’d gone into the package store with a basket of woven flax, Mr. Tend gave her the credit to buy anything off the first shelf. She looked at each item carefully, picking up a tea set, so delicate and white that it had a bluish cast. She passed on to the next item, a clothes mangle that would make washday easier. It was the practical choice and she felt like she should want it, but didn’t. She passed on again.
     When she saw it, she blushed. She wanted it desperately, and she was sure wanting something that much was wrong. Still, the shawl was exquisite. It was black and satiny with a fringe that tickled her arms when she tried it on. Embroidered roses bloomed across the shawl; red, yellow, blue, purple. Rachel was sure that there were no such roses in all the world.
     The door swung open. The gold man’s shadow fell across her doorway, her cat twining around his legs.

     “Aren’t you coming, Rachel?” She wrapped the shawl tighter around her shoulders and stepped outside as the door swung shut.


  1. I loved your imagery in this! And I've never been a fan of short stories and flash fiction--they're amazing when people who know how to write them write them, but I've never been any good at it, and I really thought I'd suck at this challenge. But honestly I think anyone can do it, with enough determination and motivation.

  2. I agree with Francesca, the descriptions are beautiful! I love all the flash fiction I'm seeing around the blogging world today. It's great!

  3. It's lovely. And it had VOICE. That's hard to do in 200. Well done!

  4. I'm pretty sure I'm out of the competition because it's waaaay over 200 - but it was fun to do and fun to read everyone else's
    Thanks for the nice comments, guys! looking forward to reading yours!

  5. I love your piece. Nicely done :)

  6. I read this as I was browsing around. I have trouble writing longer fiction - flash is more my style. this was quite good. And I love the idea of "deleted" scenes when writing a longer piece to get a better hanle on pov, character or description. I may borrow the technique so thank you for that

  7. I enjoyed this, the characters intrigue me and I want to know more about them.

    I'm only just starting to play around with flash fiction but I'm finding it easier than 'traditional' short stories. I still try to cram in too much with a short, whereas I'm learning to run with just one idea with a flash piece.

  8. That was nice. I'm glad she didn't go for the practical item. Good job. mine is #72

  9. A great sense of storytelling throughout this piece. And beautiful imagery.

  10. Great voice! Not only could I see what was happening, but I felt the emotion that emanated from your character. I'm flabbergasted by all the awesome writings I'm finding, one blog at a time.

    Awesome job! :)

  11. Love your ability to describe without overdoing it. Great job!

  12. Great world building in just 200 words. I'm intrigued by your story!

  13. Wow, this was really great! I love reading all the pieces from this competition - so many different takes on it! Love your description of the shawl - and your blog!
    Mine's #262 (

  14. Nice!
    Thanks for joining the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Look forward to your first post on October 5.

  15. This is beautiful! So descriptive and evocative!

  16. thanks everyone for your nice comments. I'm making my way through all (300+) entries. It's amazing what talented writers can do with 200 words, right?

    Alex, I missed the first Writer's Support Group post, but I'll be ready to go on 10/5


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