Tag Archives: flash fiction

Odd Feet

13 Nov

P1100342

Again, I’m very excited to receive my contributor’s copy of The Kiwi Diary. I love my Kiwi Diary and I use it all the time… (Think “I love my leather jacket” by The Chills when you read that sentence). This is the third year in a row that some words of mine have been lovingly placed among the days of the year – and next year, to be precise, between November 6th and November 7th, with a page all to its own.

P1100338

Odd Feet is actually one of the first pieces of flash fiction that I wrote, and I’m glad it has finally found a home somewhere. I get rather attached to my characters (even if they’re only characterised by their feet), and feel a little sad for them if they sit too long in my ‘Writing’ folder, without getting out there and experiencing the big wide world.  If you click on the picture above, it will enlarge so you can read the story.

Coincidentally, my poem ‘Home’ is placed beside today’s date in the current (2015) Kiwi Diary. It’s about Dunedin, my home-town, which I visit about once per year. According to The Kiwi Diary, today is also the day that ex-Prime Minister David Lange made his international debut as a racing car driver, in 1987. Well, now. Fancy that.

P1100341

Free Iron

14 Oct

I don’t know how, but I somehow missed the publication of my story Free Iron by over a month. Whoops! And in fact (and this is slightly embarrassing, but hey, who doesn’t do it?!) it was only because I googled my own name today to see what would come up, that I found it. Which goes to show that googling yourself is a worthwhile thing to do.

So here it is – my flash fiction piece Free Iron, published by Everyday Fiction. Short and sweet, and slightly creepy.

This is the first time I’ve published through Everyday Fiction. For those who enjoy writing flash fiction, I would absolutely recommend sending stories through to them. Their readers put a lot of thought into their comments, and give helpful feedback, so that even if your story isn’t accepted you have some ideas about how to improve it. I’ve also had a lot of fun perusing their past publications – each story different, but same in one crucial way: they are short!

iron

 

I had a fisty cuff with my micro fiction

7 Jun

I have a love-hate relationship with micro fiction.

I am a sucker for the competitions. No matter what project I’m currently working on, or how important the project is to me, I will throw it aside in an instant (I couldn’t bring myself to say “in a flash”) to spend the day writing – and then filing down – a micro-fiction. I think this is mostly because I’m a shameful procrastinator. I’ll do the dishes, clean the toilet, water the plants, rearrange the cupboards, write lists, budgeterise, plan trips, (write blog entries…) – anything instead of actually sitting down to work on whatever project I’ve set for myself. So if a micro-fiction competition sidles into my peripheral vision I GRAB hold of it and yank it directly to the foreground. I can then happily procrastinate while convincing myself I’m honing my art.

microfiction

The problem is, I’m not very good at writing them. I send them off, waving enthusiastically as they wander down the street all by themselves, and only a few weeks later I get the inevitable rejection letter.

So I decided (tonight – when I should, ahem, have been doing something more productive with my time) to figure out where I’m going wrong. To good ol’ Google I went, with my sincere question: “how to write good micro fiction?” I found contradicting advice, some dos and don’ts, some practical tips on keeping the word count low. I’ve chosen to use David Gaffney’s (author of Sawn-Off Tales) six simple instruction on how to write micro fiction, because they make intuitive sense to me.

You can read the full article by clicking on the link above, but in a nutshell he says: (1) Start in the middle; (2) Don’t use too many characters; (3) Make sure the ending isn’t at the end (ie avoid the twist/punch-line/“drum roll and cymbal crash” ending); (4) Pick a good title; (5) Choose an excellent last line that leaves the author thinking and even struggling to understand what the hell it’s all about; and (6) Write a longer story then cut it down.

Here is one of the three unsuccessful micro-fictions I recently submitted to Micro Madness, a national micro fiction competition running throughout June. It is exactly 100 words long.

Shark

It looked too small to be a boat, but it moved at a phenomenal speed. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was a huge fin. He took out his phone to get footage. Could even be a Great White.

It circled round and started heading towards the shore. Like it had noticed him. Brian smiled at himself, shook his head.

It kept coming. What was it doing? Trying to beach itself? Phone still in hand, Brian took a cautious step backwards.

As it hit in the sand, Brian turned to run. He only got three paces.

I’ll now go through David Gaffney’s steps one by one and see if I can improve this story.

(1) I believe that this story starts in the middle. I haven’t bothered explaining who Brian is, or why he’s walking on the beach. So I think it’s passed step #1.

(2) I only have one character.

(3) Oh dear… egg on my face. This story clearly ends at the end. Brian dies / is eaten by some weird oceanic creature. But this has got me wondering: do I stop the story before he is attacked? That would be boring, and would miss the point. The alternative is to carry on with the story after he’s been attacked. But as the story is told in a “close” third person point of view (that is, we see Brian’s thoughts) it seems impossible to carry on after he’s being eaten or at least horrifically dismembered. I’ll try writing it from an omniscient perspective and see if I can stretch it out further…

(4) I hate choosing titles (especially for flash fiction, when the title is arguably more important). I’m a very lazy title-creator. I’ll concede that the title isn’t that great. It probably leads people to believe the creature is in fact a shark.

shark

(5) Since I have to change the ending (so it’s not the end) I’ll have to change the last line anyway.

(6) You know, with this story I didn’t actually twiddle it down much. Which probably means there’s more story I could have told.

Here is my second attempt. Since the guidelines specified the story had to be 100 words or less, I’ve maintained that restriction.

Over 1 million hits on YouTube

It looked too small to be a speedboat. Brian watched it from the shoreline until he realised it was an enormous fin. He took out his phone to get footage.

It circled round and started heading swiftly towards the shore. Phone still in hand, Brian took a step backwards.

Later, the police found what appeared to be hurried footsteps heading away from the shoreline and abruptly ceasing. The boy’s phone was found three days later, damaged beyond repair. A video went viral on YouTube, showing a great, angular beast erupting from the water. Critics dismissed it as an amateur prank.

Comments are most welcome! Here’s a link to the Micro Madness page – it’s worth checking out!

Bad House

23 Nov

Although traditionally we don’t celebrate Halloween in New Zealand (though try telling that to the kids), it’s hard to deny that the decorations are oh so much cooler than the ones we bring out each Christmas. So in our house we’ve decided to hang on to them a wee bit longer.

P1080449

And in celebration of Halloween, I wrote a short but spooky story called ‘Bad House’, which I’ve just learned has won third place in SpecFicNZ’s Spooky Story Competition. You can read it here.

I also have a Christmas story coming out next month (a slightly spooky Christmas story at that) with Splickety Prime. But more on that later!