“How did you get your start writing?”
“Just like Roald Dahl.” (Yes, I take advantage of any opportunity to compare myself to my favorite writer.)
But, I’m not kidding. When I began this whole crazy ride, I did so by writing short stories for adults, just like Dahl. Except my stories weren’t short stories. They were short, short, extra short stories—flash fiction.
I had found an online magazine called “Six Sentences” that published one flash fiction piece per day. The name of the site said it all—every story was only six sentences long (or six sentences short, chortle chuckle).
To some writers, this presents an enormous challenge, to examine character and emotion and conflict between six periods. Sure, you could exploit the semi-colon and em-dash and maybe stretch it to resemble eight-and-a-half sentences, but still. That’s not much space.
The uber-short format, however, is like prose-poetry. And it’s most definitely like a picture book because some things must be left unsaid, yet the silence remains part of the story’s experience.
by Tara Lazar
Her daughter was achingly beautiful, a delicate loveliness like a paper lantern, illuminated from within. The girl’s long hair separated into fine ringlets, cascading like curled Christmas ribbon down her back. She was the kind of child who made strangers smile and take pause—the kind of child who made other mothers envious. The mother was not so much shunned as politely excluded; excuses were made, apologies provided, but invitations were never extended. She exaggerated her own ordinary features—forgoing makeup, leaving her hair unwashed for days, wearing mismatched clothing—but none of her efforts to elicit pity served to lessen the jealousy; her daughter’s radiance only shone brighter, her extraordinary hair the source of more disdain. The mother closed her eyes, grasped the scissors, and cut.
I’ve long held the belief that aspiring picture book writers would benefit from writing flash fiction, as it’s good writing practice in another format. No pictures are necessary, but a mind for visuals is. Can you imagine the scene above?
Writing these stories is fun as well as a challenge, so I was mighty intrigued when I saw Logitech announce their Very Short Story contest on Twitter.
So here’s your chance to strut your storytelling skills outside the usual medium. Logitech is giving away their new K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard and a Blurb giftcard for the best short story written in 8 tweets or less. Just use #LogiVSS to tell your tiny tale. Get all the details here—http://blog.logitech.com/2016/02/18/k380veryshortstorychallenge—but hurry! The contest ends at the close of this week.
And guess what? Logitech is also giving away one of their new keyboards to one of my blog readers! If you hate typing on a phone or tablet’s screen, worry no longer. This keyboard is happy to help you out.
Just leave a comment below about short story writing and you’re entered to win. One lucky commenter will be picked randomly in two weeks!
So go ahead and write on! (But don’t write on and on and on!)