Scratch the writing skin of most Flash Fiction aficionados and you’ll find an addict. Yes, we can’t help ourselves … we adore the genre, we drool over brilliant Flash Fiction … on a continual quest to write great stories. I write novels, chapter books and plays for children, but Flash Fiction tales I write for both adults and children. They’re a great way to take a short break from my current novel writing … 60,000 words. For Flash Fiction I like 500-800 word limits.You can see the appeal of a shortie! I like to describe the genre this way … Flash Fiction is a fluid, snappy exposé of the human condition; sensory, uncluttered, a story that rings with a sense of shared humanity.Then, in the story’s finale we all aim for a twist, an exquisite ah-ha moment that surprises both protagonist and the reader.
Flash fiction can be mystery, historical, fantasy, dystopian, contemporary, sci-fi, humour, romance, children’s tales, folk tales and the list goes on.
So, why do a growing number of writers invest time and creative energy in this genre? It’s not because the stories are short – hardly – less words means you need perfect words. Is it because time-poor readers love them online and in chapbooks? Is it because they’re fun to write? Or because good flash fiction captures perfect words and essential moments in a human’s life (or non-human)? Correct answer: ALL of the above.
It took a while to get to this stage, but I’ve had successful Flash Fiction stories … quite a few have been published in THE SCHOOL MAGAZINE for children and others, and in the online Antipodean Speculative Fiction magazine. I recently was awarded first prize in the Write Links Short Story Writing Competition with one of my favourite stories, The Little Paper-cutter of Fushun. The Judge was Mia Macrossan, highly-respected advocate of children’s books and a past judge of the Children’s Book Council Book Awards.JUDGE’S COMMENTS for THE LITTLE PAPER-CUTTER OF FUSHUN by Sheryl Gwyther:
The scene and atmosphere was established early on. The characterisation of Meili is strong and vivid. The inclusion of a daily life incident (the hair-pulling) within the general narrative added realism. The inclusion of a another narrative within the story, ie the fable, added emotional depth and provided contrast.The reader is pulled along by each melodramatic revelation eg, the debt created by the drunken father. Finally the ending is stunning and ambiguous which is lovely. It is well-plotted and well-written.
In 2014, I set up the Facebook page, The 52-Week Flash Fiction Challenge. It’s been a rip-roaring success. Not just to enforce disciplined weekly story writing, but starting the obsession with lots of other writers.
Looking forward to speaking to beginning and emergent writers at the October 3, Write Links meeting at the State Library. Topic? NEGOTIATING THE WORLD OF FLASH FICTION. Naturally!