I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May, 2000! I’m excited to get to come back and chat about writing and my books. Come by the SILS Library in Manning Hall today at 5pm to join us.
After a great time instructing the Write-On Camp at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines earlier in the week, I’ll be doing a condensed version for kids in Asheville at Spellbound Children’s Bookshop this Sunday, August 9th, at 2pm. Come and join us for storytelling and story writing. To celebrate, I wrote the following.
Stories short and often sweet,
some no longer than a tweet,
in a flash write them down,
tomorrow, 2pm, at Spellbound
NOTE: Don’t worry. That’s the only almost poem I’ll write today.
NOTE #2: Flash!
Also, ain’t alliteration awesome. Anyway…
Flash fiction is fiction shorter than a short story. I couldn’t find exact agreement on exactly how much shorter than short stories flash fiction should be. After reading some different things, I decided to go with Grant Faulkner’s ‘less than 1000 words’ definition which is nicely described by him here in the NY Times opinion pages.
That being said, part of what I talked about at my first author visit was writing without expecting it to be perfect or necessarily good before the first, second, third, or even fortieth revision. It’s easier to write when not encumbered by expected perfection. It’s okay with me if what I start with is somewhat terrible.
It occurred to me, too, that if I kept it short and flashy, I could do some writing at author visits and with the kids and people attending. Then I thought, hmmm, I should probably write some flash fiction on my own first. Practice a bit. So I decided to sit down, write some six-word fantasy stories, and not worry about quality…
Sadly, I couldn’t think of any six word fantasy stories at first.
I did, however, come up with a six word memoir. Here it is in all it’s six word glory:
I teach. I write. I smile.
There aren’t any dragons in it, but I think it counts as a six word memoir. Then I started thinking about how if I change one word, it takes on an entirely different meaning:
I teach. I write. I try.
I teach. I write. I cry.
I teach. I write. I scream.
I have to admit, at this point, I was greatly enjoying my six word memoirs. So, of course, I decided to go dark. (Please note the six word stories below are actually fictional.) Here are my dark ‘memoirs’
I teach. I write. I lie.
I teach. I write. I kill.
Interestingly enough, I became inspired enough to try some six word fantasies. Here are my first two:
The crown falls. I catch it.
The crown falls. We are free.
I also saw a piece of flash fiction on twitter that started with ‘last words’. I realized I could write lots of flash fiction six word fantasy stories by starting with those two words and adding four other ones:
Last words: Dragons have big teeth.
Last words: She can’t summon lightning.
Last words: But unicorns are friendly.
Six word stories turned out to be fun AND addictive. It was difficult, but eventually it was time to increase my word count. I wrote a story that took an entire paragraph. I’m not sure how others will like it, but it was my favorite thing I wrote during my flash fiction experimenting. And I don’t think it would have come to me if I hadn’t first written I teach. I write. I smile. So here is my flash fiction fantasy that’s more than six words but many words less than a thousand:
THE NEXT STOP
Her dark hair is singed and her shoulder is red from a dragon’s bite. She still clutches her broken sword. She doesn’t know she’s dead yet. They rarely do. The driver tries to explain as she steps onto the bus.
“I didn’t lose,” she says.
“Maybe not,” the driver says, “but you still died.” He motions her to take a seat. “I’m here to take you to what comes next.”
She frowns like she doesn’t believe him, but she walks back to the third row and slumps into the seat. They never argue too much.
He drives to the corner of Main and Bramble, then slows for the next passenger. He’s not surprised to see the dragon. It has scales that look tougher than metal. Half a sword is buried in its chest.
The driver waves the dragon aboard, and points him toward the larger area in the back.
As the dragon passes the swordswoman, he reaches into his chest, pulls out the half a sword, and hands it back to her. She takes it. Neither speak.
The dead have no enemies.