Showing posts from 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 17

Day 17: Say that again?
When we edit, we're constantly on the lookout for unintentional repetition, clichés and go-to words and phrases.  Today, however, you have our permission to embrace the repeated word, the recurring sentence.  

For today's prompt, write a story in which you intentionally repeat a phrase or sentence at least three times.

For an extra challenge, try writing a prose villanelle, e.g. a flash which steals the skeletal format of a villanelle.  Ignore the rhyming, but choose two refrains, and write your story according to the following recipe (where R1 = refrain 1, R2 = refrain 2, and s = any sentence):

Paragraph 1: R1 s R2
Paragraph 2: s s R1
Paragraph 3: s s R2
Paragraph 4: s s R1
Paragraph 5: s s R2
Paragraph 6:  s s R1 R2

Focus on effectively weaving in the two refrains, and letting them build throughout the piece, feeling familiar but fresh every time the reader revisits them.  (If you'd like to include internal or end rhymes and/or write senten…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 16

Day 16: Negations
If you've been battling holiday shoppers, menu planning, gift lists, or just grouchiness brought on by super-short days, then you may enjoy a chance to embrace the negativity with today's little prompt.

Write a story in which each sentence involves a negation, e.g. a negative word, phrase or clause that contradicts something, or indicates the absence or opposite of something.

Common examples of negative words include  'no', 'not', 'never', 'none', 'nowhere', 'nobody' and contractions like 'isn't', 'don't', 'won't', 'hadn't', 'can't', 'couldn't', 'wouldn't' and 'shouldn't'. 

For an extra challenge, tell the story entirely with negations.  No affirmatives allowed.  Instead of specifying what happens to your main character, describe what your character doesn't do, think, want or notice. Leave the reader fill in th…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 15

Day 15: Specialist Knowledge

Write a story in which you steal specialist vocabulary from a subject you know little about. 

This subject could be as broad as 'science', 'cooking', or 'dance', or as specific as 'laws of thermodynamics', 'sushi making', 'foxtrot dance steps'.  Grab a text-book or browse Wikipedia pages until you find some interesting words and then fold them into a story. 

For an extra challenge, let chance choose your subject for you.  Go to Wikipedia and either use the featured article or click the 'Random article' link on the left until you find a page which words or concepts that are unfamiliar.  (Feel free to follow links within your chosen article.)

Do you enjoy writing writing prompts? If you might be interested in providing a prompt, image or exercise for a future writing prompt project, let us know!  We're interested both in prompts that help established writers hone their craft and prompts that inspi…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 14

Day 14: Sense of Place
We're only a week away from the shortest day of the yearThe low, bright sun and long, midday shadows always make me think about my surroundings in a way that I often forget to do in high summer, which makes this a perfect time of year for a prompt about place. 

Write a piece in which the setting is one of the main characters, if not the main character.  Construct a story that couldn't be told in any other place.  Try to give the story's place a real sense of development and personality, and its own character arc.  At the end of the piece, what has changed for the landscape?  How has the setting developed? 
The setting needn't be glamorous or exotic; tthis prompt is a great excuse for a little walk down to the postbox and back with your writers' eyes set to maximum observation mode.
For an extra challenge, feel free to incorporate some of the flashy themes and word count restrictions from elsewhere on the internet....
Win a spot at the I…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 13

Day 13: It's All In The Name

It's the 13th of December today, and coincidentally, 13 is the number of the so-called Yule Lads of Icelandic folklore.  These trolls visit children during the last 13 nights before Christmas, leaving gifts or rotting potatoes.

One of the most wonderful features of the Yule Lads are their names which describe their personalities and translate into English as wonderful things like Spoon Licker, Meat Hook, and Door Sniffer (according to Hallberg Hallmundsson's translation of the poem “Jólasveinarnir” by Jóhannes úr Kötlum).

For today's prompt, we're going to come up with some great names of our own and see where it takes us.

Step 1

Set a timer for a couple minutes and write down the most interesting, unusual, and evocative character names you remember from literature or real life.  If you're having trouble getting started, children's books and fairy tales are great sources, as are the complete works of Charles Dickens. Also have …

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 12

Day 12: Making Connections

We're already halfway through the advent calendar, so what a perfect time to think about midpoints....

Step 1: Take two pieces you've written before about different themes, people, locations or topics.  They can have some similarities, but don't cheat and pick two stories that you intentionally wrote about the same character or idea.

Step 2: Now write a third piece that could be placed before, between, or after these two pieces to create a complete Flash Suite. 

If you want to, you can make a few small cosmetic changes to the previously written pieces to make all three stories appear to be about the same people or to be set in the same place...things like changing a proper name here and there, or changing the weather so that the seasons are consistent across all three pieces.  However, try not to fiddle too much!

Embrace the gaps, and search for hidden connections under the surface of each piece.   And most of all, have fun!

For an addition…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 11

Day 11: Playing with Genre
Write a piece of flash in a genre that you have never tried before, or that you think you dislike. 

You may wish to try one of the following:
Science Fiction Mystery/Crime FantasyRomanceSlipstreamAction/AdventureFable/FairytaleSpeculative Fiction Horror TragedyComedyDystopiaHistorical SatirePastiche Children's/YAMelodramaFlash with a trick twist endingFlash that's suspiciously close to prose poetry Aim for something that you'd be happy to put your name to, despite and/or because of the genre, but most of all, give yourself permission to have fun with this one.

For an extra challenge, combine two or more genres in one story.  Slipstream melodrama?  Dystopian scifi fairytale romance?  Historical detective prose poetry?  Whysoever not?

If you haven't already done so, please consider signing up at EasyFundraising to support National Flash Fiction Day, without any extra cost to you. Every time you shop online at one of the 3,500-some registere…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 10

Day 10
The 10th of December is International Human Rights Day, marking the day that Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and 2018 marks its seventieth anniversary. The Nobel Peace Prize is traditionally awarded on this day.

Write a piece inspired by one of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  (If your browser doesn't support the fancy version, Here is a plain-text copy of the UDHR; scroll down for the text version.)

For an extra challenge, you could commemorate the UDHR's 70th anniversary by...
Making your story 70 words long...or, if you're up for a micro challenge, 70 charactersWrite a flash in which 70% of the words are in one language and the remaining 30% in another language or a mix of other languagesSpan 70 years within the space of your flash *
For more background on International Human Rights Day, have a look at the Resources provided by the United Nations.

Interested in doing something …

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 9

Day 9: Flash-crostics
Today is Anna's Day in Finland and Sweden, notable because it's the traditional day to start preparing the lutefisk (cod preserved in lye) that makes up one of the components of many traditional Scandinavian Christmas meals. 

We're resorting to a rather fish lead-in here, but speaking of starts....

Using the first letters of their lines of poetry, poets used to (and can still) spell out significant words or names.

Acrostics as they're called, are great fun; can we flash fiction writers get in on some of the fun with a bit of a variation?

To complete today's prompt, come up with an intriguing title, made up of at least 9 words or more.

Write a flash that goes with the title, starting each sentence of the flash with one of the words from the title, in the order in which the words appear in the title (and extra points if you can spot what the seven-word title to this post should be!).

Flash examples of with long titles includes some of thes…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 8

Day 8: Honouring Your Broken Needles
Today is the celebration of Hari-Kuyō, or the Festival of Broken Needles, in the Kyoto and Kansai regions of Japan.

Hari-Kuyō began over four hundred years ago as a way for needleworkers, both professional and domestic, to acknowledge their work over the past years and celebrate their tools.  Traditionally, women bring their broken pins and needles to a local temple and lay them to rest in a block of tofu to thank them for their hard work.

In today's prompt, we're going to honour a different sort of broken object....

Step 1

Find a phrase or sentence that's nice enough in itself, but that isn't working in its current story (or poem or wherever its living).  Look for something that jars, distracts, or just doesn't feel like a good fit.

If possible, take this from your own work.  Maybe it's a something you've already edited out of a piece, or maybe it's a phrase or sentence you discover you no longer like as much whe…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 7

Day 7: Little Candles
Today is the Day of the Little Candles, a day of celebration in Colombia in which small candles and paper lanterns are placed pretty much anywhere a candle or lantern can be placed.

In keeping, we're providing you with a tiny prompt today, but also shining some light on some other little flashy projects you might want to look at this December....

Today's prompt is to write a story of no more than 50-some words.

Take up our challenge and write the entire story using only one-syllable words...

...take up one of the thematic challenges put forth by these lovely projects:

Write a story of up to 50 words on the theme of 'winter feast' for the Scottish Book Trust's free monthly 50-Word Fiction Competition.  Deadline: Tuesday, 11 December.Write a story of exactly 53 words on the theme of 'contradiction' for Press 53's free monthly 53-Word Story Contest.  Deadline: Sunday, 30 December.Write a story of up to 150 words that includes…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 6

Day 6:
Today is the feast day of St Nicholas, and a day where the children of families who celebrate St Nicholas' Day often receive sweets, fruits and small gifts in their stockings, socks, shoes or bags. 

We don't have presents for you today, but we do have a double dose of the present tense, should you wish to take up the challenge....

Write the same story twice (or more), written from two (or more) different characters' points of view.

You can write two separate, stand-alone stories, or write one story told from multiple points of view.

For an extra challenge, write in the present tense and interleave the two different threads so that the reader experiences the events unfolding in the story from two points of view at once.

Want to stay in touch with National Flash Fiction Day throughout the year?  Here's how:

Visit our website where you can check out our latest newsSubscribe to our newsletter (see below)Find us on TwitterFollow us on FacebookDrop us an e-mailSav…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 5

Day 5: The 5-12 Dialogue Challenge
It's the 5th day of the 12th month, so the perfect day for the 5-12 dialogue challenge!

Have you ever read a story where every character sounds the same and had trouble keeping track of who is speaking?  If only those authors had tried this simple challenge for a cheap and cheerful method to help give their characters distinctive voices!

Write a flash with two characters where one character only speaks (or thinks) in five-word sentences and the other only speaks (or thinks) in twelve-word sentences.  No cheating with the numbers in the first draft, but of course, all bets are off in the second!

If you're up for an even bigger challenge, cut out the narration, dialogue tags, and descriptions, and make the story consist only of dialogue....

Need some inspiration for dialogue-only stories?  Have a look at the winners of the Bartleby Snopes Dialogue Only Writing Contest and see what these authors manage to do with only direct speech to work…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 4

Day 4: Recipes
Apparently, the 4th of December is National Cookie Day in the US (not to be confused with National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on the 15th of May, of course). Not only is the eating of cookies encouraged today, but some businesses even hand out free ones!

Before you get your hopes up, we're sorry to report that National Flash Fiction Day is not doling out free biscuits.  In fact, we haven't even turned on our ovens.  If you want cookies, it's up to you to sort out the recipe....

Today's flash prompt is to write a piece that involves a recipe in some way or another.  Not just cooking, not just the mention of a finished dish, but a full-blown recipe.

This could involve...
A character following a recipe to create a meal or dish, as in Kit de Waal's 'Recipe for a Late Lunch'A character creating a recipe for something quite different, as in Stephanie Hutton's 'The Right Ingredients'The use of the form, language, and/or structure of a …

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 3

Day 3: Mirror Images

Many people see the end of the year as a time for personal reflection.  We look back on the year, and make plans for the next.  Forget the resolutions and forward thinking for now, though; today we're going to focus on ourselves....
Step one Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle.  Spend a minute or two jotting down a list of adjectives or short phrases that you might use to describe yourself.  Write this list on the left side of the paper.  Sometimes staring into an actual mirror can be a great way to get the words flowing.
Step two  For each word or phrase on the left side, write a word that means the exact opposite on the right side of the page.  For example, someone who described themselves as 'tidy, impatient, and calm' on the left might write down 'messy, impatient, and restless' on the right.
Step three Write a flash about a main character who is the exact opposite of how you've described yourself, a character inspired …

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 2

Day 2: Rituals and Writing
Whether you're looking forward to lighting the first candle in the menorah tonight, burning (or eating) a Yule Log on the 21st, hanging a stocking by the chimney with care on the 24th, or just settling in for the annual reruns of The Wizard of Oz, The Italian Job and The Great Escape on the telly, so much of December involves negotiating holiday traditions, rituals and customs...our own and other people's.

Write a flash about a tradition, ritual, or custom that means something different to you than it does to your friends, family or community.

For an extra challenge, mix up something about your own writing rituals. If you normally compose on the computer, try longhand. If you tend to write to music, ditch the soundtrack. If you sit at a desk, try curling up on the couch. If you usually have have a cup of tea to hand, go crazy and swap it out for some elderflower cordial or orange squash or something. If you have no writing rituals, erm, well,…

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 1

Day 1: Beginnings and Endings
Welcome to the FlashFlood Advent Calendar!  Today we bring you the first of twenty-five days of flashy prompts, so it's fitting that we're thinking about beginnings....


You know those amazing first lines, the ones that grab you by the throat and don't let go of you until you've read the rest of the story (and even then they linger)?  Things like:

“The road is covered in ghost.”Jane Monson, 'The Unmended',Speaking Without TonguesThose who don't know any better come into our neighborhood scared.” —Sandra Cisneros, 'Those Who Don't', The House on Mango Street“Peony has whiskers; she has a pointy face and a tail made out of blue raffia; she's messing about in boats and dabbling-up-tails-all, and I am in love.” —C.G. Menon, 'Watermelon Seeds',Love Across A Broken Map: Short Stories from The Whole Kahani“To lift yourself out of a miserable mood, even if you have to do it by strength of will, should be eas…

Announcing the 2018 Flash Flood Advent Calendar

To celebrate the holiday season, Flash Flood would like to gift the flash fiction community with an Advent Calendar full of flashy prompts.

One prompt a day will be posted here at Flash Flood from the 1st to the 25th of December 2018.  Writers who wish to share their work are free to join our private Facebook group (details coming soon).

We hope to see some of the resulting work come through our submission queues for Flash Flood, the NFFD Microfiction Competition, and the NFFD Anthology in 2019.

Participation is completely free, though we welcome donations to help fund National Flash Fiction Day 2019 and other flashy projects in future.

Happy holidays and happy writing!

And.... breathe!

And... that's all folks.

The flood is over for another issue, and you can flop about on the sand, gasping for breath, and waiting for the waters to return.

For now, thank you for reading.

Until next time...

'Ten Reasons to Write' by Dorothy Rice

It’s more socially acceptable than talking or muttering to yourself.

If you write with a pen, pencil or quill, or alternate hands on the computer keys, it leaves one hand free for the candy bowl.

Your family and friends will label you the, “quiet, serious” type. When called upon to join in on a conversation you’d rather not be part of, you can look up and say, “Oh excuse me, did you say something?” eyelids fluttering as if you’d just emerged from a fugue state.

You will be amazed how quickly this catches on. In no time at all, others will be making excuses for you. You won’t even need to open your mouth. “Oh never mind her,” your sister, friend or colleague will say, “she’s a writer.”

After awhile, you may not need to talk at all. Said sister, friend or colleague will do your parts for you, while you happily scribble away, perhaps offering the occasional distracted nod, so you aren’t taken for anti-social or rude.

Snacks are not an interruption to the creative process, as they might b…

'Solo for Two' by Barbara Renel

She drags her suitcase away from the bottom of the escalator and sits on it. She watches the metal stairs unfolding, disappearing, backs of heads going up to the Main Line station, faces coming down – an elaborate choreography of avoidance as people, pushchairs, bags, shoes, criss-cross in front of her, left to right, right to left, Victoria, District and Circle Lines, blue, green, yellow routes, exiting, entering.
            The clasps of her suitcase unsnap. Inside, a black leather case, battered, curved. She takes out the violin, tightens the bow and waits for his introduction. She imagines the opening broken chords of his piano, chords that will gently ascend, descend, support her melody. And she plays their song, their story.
            There’s an Egyptian limestone statue in the British Museum, two seated figures, a man and a woman, their clothing androgynous, height distinguishing one from the other. She’s holding one of his hands with both of hers. They are looking straight …

'An Unexpected Fall of Snow' by John Holland

She stands in the darkness of the back garden wearing her red water-proof coat and green wellingtons. Underneath only her nightgown. It is 4 am and the garden has a covering of snow. Something she was not expecting when she left her husband sleeping. She has two carefully folded white sheets under her arm. A green plastic petrol can in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. She feels the cold wind like a sharp slap on her face; a bitterness cutting into her legs, through her nightgown. Making her body tense. Her hands rigid.  She thinks she has never seen snow this white, this luminous. Never seen the garden so beautiful. Or desolate. Like a secret world. For what the night does not hide, the snow does, flattening, folding itself around contours. Trees stand like silent witnesses. Huge white hands pleading to the dark sky. She looks at her footprints that make plain the short journey she has taken from the house. Her tracks defiling the covering of snow. If it does not snow agai…

'The Unexpected Trade' by Nicole J. Simms

While looking in all directions, Travis darted down the street with his baseball bat gripped in his hand. He knew he shouldn’t be out here, but he was tired of living like this; he needed a reminder of how life was before it all ended – a time where you could walk down the street without the fear of someone jumping out at you and trying to devour your flesh. Travis held his side as he reached the row of shops before him. He checked behind him for any oncoming attackers, and on seeing that he remained alone, he then stepped towards the shop in the middle and stopped. His attention focused on the gold coloured words ‘R Cuts’ that shimmered against the black base of the shop sign. ‘Phew, I’ve made it,’ he said. He pushed open the shop door. The door creaked – the only sound to alert the occupants of his presence. He stepped inside and observed his surroundings. A solitary hairdressing sink with an accompanying chair was to his left, a single chair in front of a wall mirror was to his right…

'A Lexical Guide To The Bulldog Breed' by James Burr

I sit in the pub, the flames of the fire reflected in the curves of my glass, glaring at the young man, spiky hair thick with gel, year-old Aston Villa top hanging off his thin spotty frame.  I can hear his voice from my seat, at the other end of the pub.      "Caned", he says.      "Drunk."      "Inebriated."  He smiles.      "Intoxicated".      "Pissed."      "Cabbaged"      "Pie-eyed."      "Bombed".      "Plastered."      I glare across the bar at him, his loud voice making my head ache.      "Loaded."      "Merry."      "Pickled."      "Sloshed."      "Soaked."      "Well-oiled, slaughtered, lashed."  The man pauses to down his pint, his friends finding him one of the greatest wits they had ever met.      "Fuddled."      "Canned" "Mullahed."      "Half seas over."      "Tanked up."      "Stewe…

'Waiting' by Gaynor Jones

Even with a pastel cloud of candy floss obscuring her face, the woman next to me is familiar. Flecks of sugar get caught in the scattered moles on her chin as she chews.

When the music starts, her body tenses.

‘It looks fast, but they’ll be OK. Is it your granddaughter you’re waiting for?’

‘My daughter.’

I can’t see anyone older than six on the carousel.

‘I watched her get on it. But I never saw her get off.’

 My skin prickles as I realise who she is.

‘I - I’m sorry. I saw her in the paper.’

We all did. Years ago. She was the story of the decade - until she wasn’t.

‘She climbed up on that horse, right there. But I never saw her get off.’

 The girl with the chestnut hair and moon-blue eyes beamed out from posters and milk cartons for years. Ubiquitous. Then she faded into background news, for everyone but this woman.

‘Today’s her birthday’.

‘Do you come back every year?’

She turns to me, chewing the now barren wooden stick between yellowed teeth.

‘I come back every day.’

She tosses the…