You might be aware that I write flash fiction. A lot of flash fiction.
However, I don’t think I’ve ever really written a how-to on it, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity given that people seem to be finding my Twine for Beginners series pretty helpful.
Someday I might get around to doing that, but in the meantime do have a look at Tonya Thompson’s How to Write Great Flash Fiction: 10 Things You Need to Know. Someone at ServiceScape actually got in touch inviting me to share it,* and having had a read through it really does tackle a lot of the points I think new flash fiction writers – particularly those who are new to writing in general – tend to struggle with. It’s also a handy introduction to the format, listing some of the reasons you might choose to write it.
The main drawback of the advice in this post is the same as the drawback to most writing advice: good fiction involves more than simply checking items off a list, and plenty of bad fiction ticks all those boxes. I’ve seen people absolutely butcher a sentence to get rid of an adverb! However, there’s a difference between choosing to ignore advice and simply being unaware of it, and if you’re writing for a competition then dropping a dozen adverbs can be the safest way of trimming a 1,012 word story down to the 1,000 word limit.
*ServiceScape aren’t paying me for this. I don’t even claim this is the best guide to flash fiction out there, it’s just the one that was put in front of me and it covers the topic well.
You can download Red Herring for your Kindle here, and you can download Bionic Punchline for your Kindle here. OCR is Not the Only Font is available in exactly the same way. These links all point to Amazon UK, as that’s where the majority of my followers are based, but the ebooks should be available free indefinitely in all territories from now on. If they aren’t where you are, let me know and I’ll do my best to sort it out.
I may write a post on how to organise this at some point. Amazon pushes their (highly inadvisable) KDP Select programme so hard that I didn’t realise there was any other way of offering books for free until I got a tip-off from someone at a Writers’ Guild networking event. Ultimately, however, the process boils down to “ask Amazon nicely, then wait a long time and hope for the best.”
If you’d like to thank me for the free books, the best way of doing that would be to leave a review. Alternatively, the majority of my flash fiction anthologies are not (quite) free, so you might also consider treating yourself to one of those too. Blunderball, the seventh in the series, just came out yesterday. If you fancy something more substantial, there are also Ten Little Astronauts and Face of Glass, both of which have gone down very well with just about everyone who’s read them.
I figured I’d get my 2018 flash fiction anthology out while it was still 2018. Blunderball is now available on Smashwords for $0.99 and should soon appear at other non-Amazon retailers. I’ll aim to get it on Amazon as well before too long, but until then Smashwords also has a Kindle version available so if that’s your device of choice then I recommend getting it there. It isn’t hard to do. A paperback version is in the works as well.
If you’ve read any of these (or a significant number of the individual stories that make up Blunderball), please do consider leaving a review at your retailer of choice (or Goodreads). It makes such a difference.
If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll likely be aware that the first of my flash fiction anthologies, OCR is Not the Only Font, has always been available for free as an ebook (as have Red Herring and Bionic Punchline – nearly 100 free stories altogether). However, anyone using a Kindle e-reader (or the Kindle app) would have had to pay 99p on Amazon or download the Kindle book elsewhere and manually load it onto their device.
That’s now changed for OCR is Not the Only Font, which is free on both Amazon UK and Amazon US (and Amazon Japan and probably others, but I expect any one of these pages will probably point you towards your local site). This means you can download the book directly through your device’s built-in storefront without having to pay a penny – essentially bringing Amazon into line with every other retailer out there. Continue reading
I’ve been pretty heavily focused on getting Ten Little Astronauts ready for publication recently, which might be why I never noticed that two of my interactive fiction games were on the People’s Choice shortlist for Wonderbox’s Opening Up Digital Fiction Competition.
You can play either one by clicking its icon above.
I sent in a whole bunch of games back when the competition was open for submissions, but wasn’t particularly confident in any of them making the cut. To see two in there is a real surprise, especially since these two in particular are very different in tone.
Because I discovered this pretty late on, not only has voting now closed but the winners have already been announced! Sadly neither of my games are amongst them, but there was some pretty serious competition: the winners look absolutely top notch, and I encourage you to check them out.
This is hardly the first time something I’ve worked on has been up for a prize, but it is the first time it’s happened specifically for an interactive piece that wasn’t a team project. It just goes to show that it’s usually worth taking a chance on these things even if you’re not sure what will come of it. Also, do keep an eye on Wonderbox specifically: the competition is annual so if you’d like to take a shot at it yourself then you’ll have a chance next year!
If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you might have already had a chance to read The Garden of Eleven, the flash fiction piece I submitted to the final Hampshire Writers’ Society competition of their 2017-2018 season. That piece went on to take first place, and it’s now going on to be broadcast on Hospital Radio Basingstoke: one of the top five hospital radio stations in the UK.
If you’d like to have a listen online, it’ll be on sometime between 15:00 and 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 22nd of August 2018 (ie. coming up soon!). But time zones are difficult, so if you don’t know when that is for you, keep an eye on my Twitter feed: I’ll try and squawk about it an hour or so in advance.
I think this is the first time something of mine has gone out as audio like this, but we’re hoping it could become a regular thing for HWS – with the winning competition entry being broadcast every month.
Behold! Damon L. Wakes’ Beer-on-the-Wall Simulator: a complete Twine game created using only one passage! Indulge your eyeballs with this beast of a flowchart:
Yeah. You can probably guess where this is going. Enjoy!
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 31
Challenge #14: Write a story that includes a criminal character and is not set on dry land. It may be a 369er, an epistolary narrative, or a work of interactive fiction.
You are Wishes O’Houlihan, top agent of the International Leprechaun Police. Riding atop your mighty steed – a unicorn with a chainsaw for a horn – you are unstoppable.
Your mission is to take down Captain Blokebeard, the most notorious pirate of the North Specific.
Parachute in! 2
Speedboat chase! 3
Launch yourself from a cannon! 4 Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 30
“Come on, Squat Runt!”
“Can we rethink my nickname, Doctor James? I feel as though it crosses the line from affectionately disparaging to actually hurtful.”
“There’s no time! We have to reach the Sistine Chapel before that albino monk gets—”
A hooded figure stepped out from the doorframe. “My ears are burning,” said the monk.
“Well, I’m not surprised,” said California James. “It is an exceptionally sunny day.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 29
EXT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR EXCEPTIONALLY BIG-EYED ORPHANS – MORNING
We see the sun rising over St. Swithun’s Home for Exceptionally Big-eyed Orphans, which is prominently signposted. Birds are singing. Peaceful flute music – you know the music I mean – plays.
Record scratch. The music stops.
INT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR ETC. KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS
MRS. WITHERSPOON continues screaming, hands clasped to her face. She screams for some time, eyes wide with horror. Finally, we see what she was screaming about. There is a plate on the kitchen table covered with the smeared remains of a cake. Icing is splattered liberally all around.
MRS. WITHERSPOON: Who can possibly deduce who ate the orphans’ precious cake?
Tyres screech outside.
Brutal guitar solo plays.
TITLE CARD: “SATAN AND HIS ROBOT BUDDY PAUL” Continue reading