Last year, National Poetry Day came and poets were delighted. One person who wasn’t so happy was Calum Kerr, a writer, editor and self-confessed advocate of the flash fiction form. He sought to change that and thus National Flash Fiction Day was born.
The first ever National Flash Fiction Day falls tomorrow and in the lead-up there have been competitions, readings, flash-mobs and a published collection. All of this culminates in a series of events across the country.
No hard and fast rules have ever been established for writing flash fiction. This has sometimes worked against it, as writers of longer prose often condemn it as writing with no dedication; for readers without patience. However, the flash format with its restricted word count lends itself to some incredibly freeing narratives. To show you just what we mean, we’ve asked a couple of flash fiction authors to submit writing:
M.G. Noakes takes obsolete words and recycles them to create new meanings and starting points for short fiction.
Flurrigigs; useless finery.
A toddler, in a typical fit of solipsistic rage, knocked over the carefully constructed pyramid of Heinz ketchup bottles onto the floor, creating a jagged pond of fine tomato mulch. Thomas, a teenage part-time stock boy, stood there, gaping at the impossibility of the task as it presented itself in a grossly inconvenient way. Having built the noble condiment structure himself, he was mentally torn between a safe and realistic expression of his crushing anger (indeed, the lower lid of his right eye was trembling most delicately) and a cacophonous, highly destructive limb flailing rage that would most likely get him fired if not arrested.
“Sorry about that,” crooned the mother, her dowdy, used-to-be-attractive features contorted with feigned remorse. “He just wanted a box off cinnamon flurrigigs, but I said no.”
Thomas could only do what most boys his age could do; he shrugged his narrow shoulders, and made a barely audible noncommittal noise that sounded like air escaping from a punctured plastic sandwich bag.
Melanie of TheIncredibleMeeow writes first person flash fiction creating autobiographic fiction.
Looked west and didn’t see the clouds piling up in the east. I am not dressed for this, not prepared to spend my days and nights cleaning up after the storms. Despite my hesitation, the darkness descends with a serenity that comes especially unexpected. Needless to say, none of the other folks have followed my lead in dealing with this. They simply do not care, have protected their assets with insurance and plain plastic planes, neither of which I have access to. Full heart, clear eyes, can lose. I am being treated unkindly and treat those next to me unkind in return. We share a common knowledge that does nothing to put us at ease. I share a singular type of reservation that does everything to make me feel uneasy.
To help readers (and writers) out with this previously uncelebrated form, David Gaffney has given The Guardian a list of tips on writing flash fiction.
M.G. Noakes recycles words for fiction at Fragments/Recycled.
Melanie of TheIncredibleMeeow writes both flash and short fiction.
The National Flash Fiction Day anthology (which has a story from our editor, Nick Murray) is out now and can be found here.