Jun 15, 2012

Why Writers Should Flash

Flashing is a great way to tighten your writing, instead of having pages to set up your story, you only have a line or two. It's also a great way to feel more productive, a novel takes a long commitment, but with flash fiction, you can get several pieces quickly to the point 'the end'. I find it very challenging and have a lot of work to do before I can claim to master the flash. Luckily for me, Romantic Friday Writers provide plenty of challenges for flash writing. Why not give it a go? Click the picture to sign up to this challenge, your prompt - Being the Perfect Ex.

Unsure how to tackle Flash Fiction? Try these links for some tips:

He’d stay if he knew.
‘I've got the photo album. You love looking at it, remember?’
No. She did not remember. Not the album or the woman holding it.
‘Here’s your favourite, you and Lilly.’
Lucy straightened. It was the photograph from the Autumn dance. Lucy was wearing her new tight skirt, just like Lilly. The girls had changed in the ladies room, Lilly warning Lucy, Keep your mouth shut, Mum’ll flip if she finds out. And there he was, dark hair combed back, thumbs in pockets, wild eyes daring the camera. Lucy ran a finger over the the figure in the picture.
The woman turned the page.
Lucy peered at the next photograph. ‘Who?’
‘It’s you.’
‘I’m so… old.’
The woman laughed and gave her a hug. ‘That was your seventieth, everyone came, remember?’
Seventy? But last night her and Max… they fought. He left
‘Here’s one of the whole family.’ The woman pointed to a group of smiling strangers. 
‘Who’s this?’ Lucy poked at a face.
‘That’s your nephew, Sam.’
‘Who’s this?’
‘Ron, Lilly’s husband, and look there’s Lilly. Jess and Rachel are Sam’s kids. See, I’m there too, with Richard.’ 
Lucy's finger jabbed a pasty image with lifeless eyes and then waved it at the man with the matching face seated by her hospital bed. 
The woman frowned. ‘Henry, remember?’
‘Where’s Max?’
The woman's shoulders dropped, she reached across and closed the album.
‘Did I tell him?’
‘Tell him what? Who is Max?’
Keep your mouth shut. Mum’ll flip if she finds out.
‘We had a fight. Lilly will know him.’
‘Lilly died last year, remember?’
Lilly’s gone?
Lost. Everyone she loved gone. A moment flittered over a lifetime.
Except... ‘Do I have a child?’
‘Yes! You do remember, don’t you?’
The woman’s dark eyes shone with pleasure, those same eyes… a name...
Gemma hugged her. She was hers. A flash of memory, a wild-eyed girl, maybe four, in a muddy dress.
‘Gemma… your father...’
Gemma pulled back, her grin wide. ‘It’s okay Mum, Dad’s here too. He always comes to visit his sweetheart, don’t you Dad?’
The old man’s focus didn’t move towards them, but he nodded.
Henry? Max had known. They’d fought. He left.
Lilly’s warning. Yes, she’d just shut her mouth. She was Henry’s sweetheart.

I'm not at all sensitive when it comes to feedback, feel free to critique if the mood strikes you, I do listen... sometimes.


  1. I like your approach to this woman's lost memory and subsequent confusion.

    My one critiques is that perhaps you have too many names and characters in the story. It made it a little hard to follow. But that's just me. I'm barely drinking my first cup of coffee and my brain is still not functioning.

    I think I'll try that sight. Thanks again. You are always a fountain of information. Your generous giving is bound to reverberate right back to you.

  2. This is poignant, the youthful love and maybe a secret in there? I agree with the above comment about the names but maybe you could have spaces inbetween the sentences which would make it easier to read and understand. On the other hand it does help to emphasise the lady's confusion about who is who which is want you were trying to convey.

  3. A great flash, surely not in a pan. Was that lame?..lol...confusion surely strikes at that age and many others. I can flash away too, but then I get to yappy and away another book tends to show.

  4. Here's my critique: I loved it. You didn't go on and on about what was happening, you just let it happen. We figured out that she had problems with her memory without having to spend extra words on telling us. Wonderful!

    I hesitated writing flash fiction for a long time, I always preferred novel writing. However, a critique site I belonged to held a contest for best flash fiction story based on a theme and so I thought I'd give it a go. Well, I won and now the story is in an anthology.

    Also, I learned a lot about writing great scenes from my flash fiction. I encourage all writers to try it.

  5. Thanks for the comments! I'll have a play with those names today, see if I can clarify, less is more in flash :)

  6. Flash fiction is good exercise for keeping writing tight. I had a go last year on postcardshorts and found it such fun. I really should have another go in between WIPs.

  7. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. This was so sad!

  8. I have only read three pieces of flash fiction on a blog all the way through. (I also read a short story by Mary Pax, online.)

    Two of the FF pieces were yours. This was one of them. I've been reading writers' blogs for over a year. I think that says it all.

  9. Wow! Both of our protagonists have some similarities!
    Great text. Unusual approach to the theme.
    Best wishes,
    Anna's RFW #38

  10. Love love love your spin on this theme. I was a little confused by the names, too, but figured it out by the end.

    A few things I found confusing: "No. She did not." I would repeat the word remember "She did not remember." Because at first I thought it was saying she didn't LOVE the album or the woman holding it, and I thought, well gee, that's kind of bitchy. Later on, I "got" it, but at first I was inclined to dislike her.

    "The girls had changed in the ladies" - this is me being a dumb American, but I didn't get this, I thought you'd typoed and meant the girls had changed INTO ladies, and wondered why that would make Mum flip. A fix for dumb Yanks like me might be "They'd changed clothes in the ladies'" or "The girls had changed in the ladies' room."

    "Lucy's finger jabbed a pasty image with lifeless eyes and then waved it at the man" I think this needs to be reworded a bit - she's waving her FINGER at the man, right? but the object is the image in the album.

    Fabulous piece, and with the little mystery in there about her love affair with Max although she was seeing, would marry Henry... I really FELT this piece, felt her struggling to remember things, her confusion, her anguish as if it was just last night.

  11. Charmaine, this is an excellent idea! I do flash sometimes, and I notice it does challenge a writer in the best way; you have to get to the point quicker and get your message and images across quicker and with less words. It does make writing tighter. there is a monthly challenge over at WD in one of the Flash fiction groups, and sometimes I join them. I enjoy it and you feel such a feeling of accomplishment when you complete a flash fiction story. Take care!

  12. Dear Charmaine,
    Believe it it not...most of my poems are born from fiction. I can certainly relate to what you are saying here. In any case, great job and thanks for sharing.

  13. Hi Charmaine,this is the second time I've come by but got interrupted before I could leave a comment.

    It was great that you put the bit about FF at the beginning for your followers who may not have heard of it, or tried it. We already had Myrna posting for us this prompt, through your urging. Lovely.

    High praise from Suze. Now I feel cut that she hasn't enjoyed my stories, lol.

    You've written a great story here, but I too got confused at the names and I had to go back and re read to sort them out. Maybe I'm not concentrating enough! I guess most stories are hard to follow if you have too many characters. Here you needed them. Shows what an emotive thing a photograph album is.

    I loved Beverly's comment about the 'Ladies'. I wondered if the Americans would get it. We Aussies have so many different expressions. We know most other cultures' expressions, but very few know ours, lol! We had a fair bit of controversy over this last year. I even took to putting 'All expressions in my story are Australian.' Couldn't be bothered after awhile - 'bangs', 'pocketbook', 'bathroom'. I'd like to do up a list with the different translations. (Sorry for raving on but it brought back memories. I just knew someone would pick up on it.)


  14. Thanks - I'm going to rework this piece a little, will be a good learning experience for me :)

  15. Excellent piece.

    I'd like to echo what Beverly said, especially the line, 'She did not' ... remember. Also, if you say 'The girls had changed in the Ladies'(capitalized & apostrophized [if there's such a word!], you won't need 'room.' Lastly, shouldn't the line, "Lilly will call him" be "Lilly will REcall him"?

    Thanks! This makes me want to try flash fiction.

  16. So true... now I just have to convince my brain of this and start doing it...:) Great flash fiction...

  17. I liked this a lot, well written and I did get the ladies part...maybe because of the tendency to cut words while conversing.
    I was left with the feeling that maybe, Gemma was Max's lovechild.

  18. Charmaine; this was wonderful. And powerful. I like how you wove Lucy's secrets and past into what she was seeing in the future. I get the feeling Max is actually Gemma's father, and it is so well done I nearly missed the point of the memory.

    Excellent work.

    Thanks for participating this week.


  19. Nice piece! I love flash fiction though writing it is a challenge, or perhaps because of it.

    I come from the Insecure Writer's Support Group, trying to catch up with as many blogs as I can. I loved your blog and will come back for more.

    Good luck!

  20. Parts of this were sad, but I loved it when a moment of recollection swept over her.

    I've come to enjoy reading and writing flash pieces. It's a great writing exercise.

  21. I like the fact that this was dramatic, without being over-dramatic at all: a long buried family secret almos forgotten. And I don't mind the number of characters. Yes it is confusing, but in my opinion, IT SHOULD be. It betones the confusion of an addled mind, and gives the story character.

  22. Wow! Beautiful and heartbreaking. I was so confused at first, not understanding where the disconnect was and also all the different names. But the moment I realized what was going on: Wow! Quite an emotional punch.

  23. Really intriguing. I read it in a flash and am going to reread before comment. What a cool way to sharpen your pencils though.

  24. Wow, I loved this piece. Beautifully tight, poignant, brilliant.

    And yes, I do like writing flash fiction--especially when I'm in the middle of edits.