Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 11
Challenge #5: Write a story including a plan that fails because of an unforseen and inherent flaw. It must include a character and setting based on two tarot cards chosen at random from the Major Arcana. Optionally, a phone call must be made at some point.
My two cards were Temperance and Wheel of Fortune.
Far away, in a time not yet remembered, there lived a king who delighted in all precious things. His crown was forged of platinum, and gemstones of cut trinitite adorned his hands.
Twenty-two knights served this king, and twenty-two he sent out on a journey, when news reached his ears of a distant land where dwelt a serpent with horns of gold. The wastes were home to many strange creatures—atom-bred—and he wished to have a horn from this beast as a drinking vessel.
The knights readied their steeds, and a crowd gathered to witness the spectacle. These were strange animals with hides of iron and chrome: they ate no food, and would drink nothing but the pungent water drawn from the deepest well. Each of these creatures stood twice as tall as a man, save for two: the steed of the first knight, for whom the wastes had long been home, and the steed of the twenty-first, who had once been his squire. These two were no larger than cattle, seeming dwarfed even by the meagre provisions that they carried.
The journey began, and those knights at the front of the party spurred their steeds on as fast as they would go. Dust rose from the earth and smoke rose from their mouths. All were eager to claim the serpent’s horn, and with it the king’s favour. Yet some settled for a slower pace, among them the first and the twenty-first. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 9
Challenge #4: Write a story featuring at least one petty deity, but no well known ones. It must include at least one of the following elements: spectacular shoes, a coin flip, moving vehicles, a rite of passage, coconuts. Also, at least one of these: no shoes allowed, strange definitions of justice, revolving doors, something forgotten, fables.
She appeared suddenly, without fanfare, standing barefoot between the lanes of speeding traffic. Cars honked angrily, vans swerved, yet they seemed not to concern her even as her robe whipped in their wake.
“You have forgotten your gods,” she announced, quite calmly. “You have consigned them to oblivion: only I remain. Tell me then, what is my name?”
The people on the street waved and yelled. A construction worker in a hi-vis vest looked left and right, preparing to rush out and lead her to the pavement, but suddenly there were no or in the road. There was no at all.
“You have forgotten your gods,” she said again. “I am all that’s left. Tell me then, what is my name?”
In a nearby greengrocers’ shop, the green plastic tray between the mangoes and the coconuts suddenly stood empty. The grocer stared at it. That tray had held , surely? The sign read: “ ’ – 4 for £1.”
“Are you Athena?” asked the grocer, his voice trembling. Two more stood empty: the and the were now gone too.
“No,” replied the goddess. “I am not Athena: those who are not paid tribute are forever lost.”
Gradually, it on those gathered that there were neither on the trees nor in the sky. No blew through the streets, and the was silent. Continue reading
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.
The following stories were produced for Flash Fiction Day 2015. I’ll be updating this post with new stories throughout the day.
At a glance, the Human Fly wasn’t the most obvious choice of accomplice for a bank job. But X-Ray Ted wasn’t one to make decisions based on a mere glance. The Fly might not have the strength to heave a sack of gold bricks, or the mind-reading powers to get the guards’ security codes, he possessed one trait that no other supervillain had. Or wanted.
Super-corrosive bug vomit.
X-Ray Ted’s incredible X-ray vision had long ago revealed an odd quirk of this particular bank vault. The bulktanium mega-alloy of the door was capable of withstanding lasers, saws, and 99.9% of superhero eye beams, but for some reason had pretty much no resistance to being melted by acid. A can of supermarket own brand orangeade could probably strip the finish off. The Human Fly’s gastric juices could eat right through the hinges.
And so they did.
As the door of the vault crashed to the ground, the bank’s alarm began to blare. They would have only forty seconds until the cops arrived, but that was thirty-one more seconds than they needed. X-Ray Ted’s surveillance had been comprehensive. He ducked inside, gathered up a few choice—priceless—items, and let the Fly take his share.
The Human Fly hesitated, torn between a big bag with a dollar sign on it and a guard’s half-eaten bagel.
“Come on!” shouted X-Ray Ted, “We’ve got to go!”
The Fly took the bagel and stuffed it in the bag, which he heaved over his shoulder. He wasn’t smart, thought X-Ray Ted, but he wasn’t stupid either.
There were sirens in the distance. X-Ray Ted made a dash for the nearest window, the Human Fly buzzing noisily behind him. Ted jumped head first through the glass, did a flip, and landed on his feet in the alley outside. A standard superhero/villain move—banal, really—but it got the job done. He checked behind him.
The Human Fly was still inside, hovering just in front of the window.
BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! He took another shot at getting through the window, but brained himself on the wall next to it. BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP!
“It’s right there!” shouted X-Ray Ted, from seven feet away. “It’s right in front of you!”
BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! The Human Fly caught the top of the windowframe this time. BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP!
The sirens grew louder.
BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP! BZZZzzzzzzzTHWAP!
Finally, the Human Fly found the window and made his way outside. Then straight back in. X-Ray Ted considered running off and leaving him, but that would seriously affect his bragging rights down at the supervillain local. He hopped back inside the bank and tried to shoo the Human Fly out through the window, but it just freaked him out.
BZZZzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!! The Human Fly made a lazy lap around the foyer.
The cops burst through the door.
X-Ray Ted gave up. This was no longer the perfect crime he’d had his eye on, and bragging rights were the least of his worries. He dove back out through the window, and was immediately tackled to the ground.
“Should have used the door,” remarked Commissioner Hindsight, as he slapped the cuffs on him.
10:41 Continue reading
In a weird combination of planning way ahead and being really late, I’d like to let people know about an event I’m planning to organise for Flash Fiction Day (June 22nd): an event that G. Deyke already let people know about an entire month ago. So while there’s ages to go before the day itself, I’ve also been pretty slow to get this out there.
Or, as an alternative way of looking at it, this idea is so incredibly amazing that I didn’t have a chance to get it out there first. Let’s go with that. Continue reading