Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fiction in a Flash

So, what's your shortest short story? A few thousand words? Shorter? How about 250?

On rare occasions that I am actually between novels, I will do various experiments in style, format, technique, etc., in an effort to sharpen my skills and just become a better writer in general.

It was by luck that I stumbled across a short story contest some years back -- a short, short story contest, out of Florida, I believe (I only remember that because part of the contest prize was a crate of Florida oranges). You could write about any topic. The only stipulation was that the story could have a word count of no more than 250 words.

According to wikipedia, these stories with the extremely small word counts are also referred to as flash fiction, sudden fiction, microfiction, and postcard fiction. There is some variation in the definitions based on the word count, which usually runs from 250 to 1,000 words maximum.

There is what I consider to be a great one by Ernest Hemingway that is 6 words.

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Wait.... let it soak.... paint the whole image.... yeah, pretty cool, huh?

So, to all the writers out there with novels in works that have word counts rising into the six digits (myself included), here is my challenge: Can you write a short, short story in 250 words or less?

Below I have pasted by short, short story. (The disclaimer: This unwieldy monster was written many, many years ago in what I lovingly refer to as my dark period -- stop your snickering all those who know me --and has not been edited since. I promise, I've gotten better.)

The Cliff

Devon stood on the cliff’s edge, peering fearlessly down the airy abyss to the crashing surf below. Flawless, blue sky met deep green ocean on the distant horizon. Each pounding wave echoed up the rock wall hitting Devon with the fury of its force. The ocean churned, as if brewing up a massive storm out in the distance. Yet the air was still. Not even a light breeze stirred his hair. Nothing seemed capable of breaking the peace of the day. Every so often a sea gull would glide by, but even they flew without a sound today.

He stood wearing only a pair of worn jeans, allowing the sun to beat down on the bare skin of his chest. Beads of sweat collected on his neck and slid down the contours of his back.

The waters offered peace, and that was all he was aware of. To feel the stinging rush of air as he plummeted to the water below.

Now was the time to end the whirlpool of questions. Devon closed his eyes and moved closer to the edge. Salty air filled his lungs. All the pain, sorrow, confusion, and anger flew out of him, leaving only a sense of lightness. He felt as if he could fly off the cliff and join the gulls in the sky – above the chaos that ruled the world he knew. Now, I will be free.

“Devon, dinner time!”

“Yes, Momma. I’m coming,” he called, jumping off his bed.


firedrake said...

Very Calvin & Hobbes...

Carol said...

That's funny. I love it. I need to do some of that. Carol