Tuesday, 25 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 25



Day 25: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas....

For our last writing prompt in the 2018 Flash Flood Advent Calendar, we're putting ourselves first...literally.

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Write a story in which the main character is you, but everything else in the story (setting, characters, situations) is fictional.  It's up to you whether you simply want to write yourself into a circumstance that just happens to be different from your life, or whether you prefer to go down the Alice-in-Wonderland you-finding-yourself-in-an-unexpected-place route.

If you'd like an extra challenge, use 'joy' as a theme, and give your story a happy ending.  Try to avoid a conclusion that's trite, pat, predictable, twee, or mawkish.  (Did we mention that this is a challenge?)



Thank you so much for writing with us during these past 25 days.  If you have a moment, we would love to know what you thought of these prompts, and your thoughts on NFFD in general.  If you could take a moment to fill out this short survey, we would be very grateful.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a brilliant 2019.  Happy writing!

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


 

Monday, 24 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 24

 
Day 24: Silent Night...

It's Christmas Eve, and for those celebrating Christmas, it can be a time of many things...family and loneliness, serenity and stress, quiet and chaos, joy and grief, and pretty much everything in between.  And for those not marking the holiday, there is plenty of traffic and bustle and Slade to put up with.

In today's prompt, we're going to take a step away from it all and think about something that it is easy to get too little (or too much) of this time of year: silence.

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Write a story or scene in which two people have a conversation, but at least one never makes a noise.  It's your choice whether you want to replace speech with other forms of communication, or just relegate the quiet character's talking to the off-camera moments.  Just make sure there is no direct speech (dialogue reported word-for-word in quotation marks) or reported speech (the narrator or author summarising what the character said) within the piece.

For an extra challenge, write an entire story involving more than one person in the same place, with no speaking whatsoever -- on or off camera. 



We have one more prompt for you tomorrow, but in the meantime, if you've enjoyed these prompts, please consider making a donation to National Flash Fiction Day to support future events.  NFFD is volunteer-run and the new team is actively seeking ways to keep the project going in 2019 and beyond.  Any support, not matter how modest, is a great help.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.



Sunday, 23 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 23



Day 23: Making Beautiful Scenes from Radishes



The Night of the Radishes (Noche de Los Rábanos) is an annual event taking place on the 23rd of December in the Market Square of Oaxaca, Mexico where artisans make and display beautiful scenes out of carved radishes. 

Can we take some radishes of our own and shape them into something surprising and beautiful?

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Find some writing that you did for any purpose other than creative expression.

This could be a shopping list, job application, essay, half-finished letter, financial report or note to your family or housemates requesting that they put their dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink.

Have a read over it and use its words to craft a story.  You may add words, but challenge yourself to add as few as possible.

If you want an extra challenge, don't add any words; craft your story by rearranging the words you've already written.



If you'd like to share the flash fiction love, consider purchasing one of our past anthologies for a friend or loved one.  Print versions are available from the NFFD Bookshop, as are links to Amazon where you can purchase ebooks.


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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.




Saturday, 22 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 22



Day 22: Story Sketches

One of the most exciting elements of flash is the way whole worlds can be suggested with broad strokes and a few carefully chosen details.  In today's prompt, we're going to play with writing loose and free, making sketches with our words.

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Part 1

Tell a story with the bare minimum of fussiness and elaboration.  Set yourself a timer for no more than five minutes (and you're very welcome to go shorter if you're feeling brave), and get the bones of a story down on paper.

Instead of seeing this as merely an outlining of a story, try to imagine yourself as the flash equivalent of a sketch artist: you have a limited time to capture the essence of a moment or scene, and you're choosing this fast and gestural approach on purpose.  Embrace the omissions and the playfulness of your quickly-drawn lines.

You are welcome to use the art provided as a starting point, or begin with a blank canvas, whatever you prefer.

This exercise works wonderfully if you're people-watching or picking up snippets of overheard conversation.  It can also be a useful tool when approaching a longer story that isn't quite working; if you put your draft aside and write a quick gestural version of it, you may discover something new about what's at its heart, or at least what about it interests you the most.

Once you're done with Part 1, you can, for an extra challenge, move on to...

Part 2




Once you have a sketch, you can transform it into something different by choosing elements to colour and texture...elements that might not otherwise have been the primary focus.

Play around with your Part 1 sketch by adding or accenting a detail or feature that was not the primary focus in the first draft.  This may pull the piece in a different direction or change its focus.  Be open to whatever might happen and have fun!

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If you enjoy writing to visual prompts, here are a few places to check out:

  • For quick, gestural writing (you're not meant to take more than an hour in your writing and editing), check out Visual Verse (where submissions are open from the 1st to the 15th of each month).  
  • If your flash sidles into prose poetry territory -- or even full-on poetry (we won't tell!), you might be interested in Rattle's monthly Ekphrastic Challenge (with an upcoming 31 December deadline for this month).
  • If you'd prefer to choose your own visual prompts, The Ekphrastic Review's guidelines says they would love to see more prose, including micro, flash and shorter fiction, that is about or inspired by art. 



The artwork for today's prompt was created by writer and artist Jeanette Sheppard.  We've got some wonderfully exciting news to share about Jeanette in the near future, but in the meantime, do check out her beautiful website at jeanettesheppard.com, or catch up with her on Twitter @InkLinked for writing and @JinnySketches for art.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Friday, 21 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 21


Day 21: Good Things Come in Small Packages

It's the shortest day of the year, so for today's challenge, let's celebrate the shortest of short shorts....

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How short a story can you write?  Can you write a story that's....
For an extra challenge, write a flash suite in three sections, one of each length above.  Let the three sections ping off each other in interesting ways, but each section should stand on its own as a complete micro.



If you'd like to help further the aims of National Flash Fiction Day, one of the best things you can do is to support other writers.  It doesn't have to cost money; if you've read something you love recently, tell the author, write a review, or recommend it to a friend. 

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 20


Day 20:I Second (Guess) That Emotion

Tears stream down my face.  I wring my hands.  My heart pounds, races, flutters, and skips a beat.  I bite my lip and break out into a cold sweat.

What could possibly be happening?  Could it a dramatic moment in a story?  Or is it an allergic reaction to common word pairings?

If you guessed the latter, this prompt is for you....

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Step 1.

Pick a mood or emotional state that you'd like to write about.  This could be fear, anxiety, love, arousal, boredom...anything where you can imagine a character's physical response.

Step 2.

Put on a timer for five minutes or so and jot down all the common physical manifestations you can think of for that mood.  What is your character doing and feeling?  What is their body doing that is beyond their control?  What might they be doing deliberately?  What are they doing unconsciously?

Embrace cliché!  Seek out and celebrate all those common word pairings!  For fear, you might end up with something like the first paragraph, for example.  Let fingers tap, nostrils flare, skin flush and eyes widen.  Palms can be sweaty; tears can sting before they roll down cheeks. 

Step 3.

Now write a scene or story featuring that mood or emotional state without using any of the words or phrases on your list.  Spend some time describing your characters' physical responses using fresh words, ideas, descriptions and imagery.

For an extra challenge, try to gracefully weave in a few common word pairings...that would commonly be used to describe an emotion completely different from the one you're trying to portray.  Can you make a case in your story for, say, an angry character's smile softening; a character's eyes flashing with exhaustion? a character's lips pursing as a sign of tranquility?




Save the date: NFFD has exciting things planned on 15 June 2019!  If you or a group or publication you know has a flashy event planned on or around this time, let us know and we'll promote your event on our National Flash Fiction Day Calendar, to be launched in the new year.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 19


Day 19: Surprise!

Many holidays in December involve the exchange of wrapped gifts.

Have you ever had to act surprised when someone gives you a holiday gift but you already know what it is?  Have you ever wrapped up a present for yourself only to act surprised when it comes time to open it? 

Today's prompt gets at a wonderfully philosophical question: can a person be surprised by a present they give themselves?

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Write a flash in which you aim to surprise yourself with every sentence — perhaps even every word — as you're writing.  If you think you know how the sentence is going to end, take it a different direction.  If you think you know what word you're going to use, pick something else.  If you think you know how the story will end, find a different way to resolve it. 

At first this may feel as impossible as trying to tickle yourself, but relax, have fun, and give yourself permission to write weird and wonderful.  Free yourself to write nonsense if you like, as long as that nonsense is a continual surprise. 

For an extra challenge, take your first draft, and edit it into an equally surprising second draft.  That is, keep it linked in some way to the first draft, but aim to completely astonish yourself with your edits. 

For an extra extra challenge, keep going with surprising-yet-related edits until you have enough drafts to quilt together into a flash suite or a segmented flash.



This is a reminder that you can give NFFD a gift without spending a penny extra.  If you haven't already done so, please consider signing up at EasyFundraising to raise a free donation for National Flash Fiction Day every time you shop online at one of the 3,500-some registered retailers.  Thank you for your help!

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

FlashFlood Advent Calendar 2018: Day 18



Day 18: He's Makin' A List, Checkin' It Twice

For some people (and not just Father Christmas), December is a month of lists.  Shopping lists.  Gift lists.  To-do lists of Everything that Needs to Get Done before schools break up.  Is NFFD going to give you a break from all this December list making with our latest writing prompt?  Not likely.

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Write a character sketch in the form of a shopping list.  What kind of story can you tell with only a list of items to purchase?  What might a list say about a character's situation, needs and aspirations?  If you'd like an extra constraint, limit your shopping to a grocery store or supermarket.

Try to resist adding in any extra context or information that wouldn't appear on a typical shopping list.

For an extra challenge, try to tell a complete story through your shopping list.  Can you construct a narrative just through the items on the list?  What changes for your character by the end of the list?  Or, can you surprise the reader with a twist-ending of a final item?




And since we love lists so much, let us give you a list of the word counts for upcoming NFFD projects in 2019! 

  • The Anthology: 500 words
  • The Microfiction Competition: 100 words
  • Flash Flood: 500 words
  • The Write-In: ???  (Tell us if you're interested in seeing this project revived!)

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Monday, 17 December 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.  

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

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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 sentences in trimeter or pentameter, feel free, but that's icing on the cake.)



At the risk of repeating ourselves, the National Flash Fiction Day Bookshop is open for business!  You can buy ebooks and print copies of our past anthologies on Amazon in most countries, but if you're looking to support future NFFD projects, buying print copies directly from National Flash Fiction Day helps the most.
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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Sunday, 16 December 2018

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.

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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 the gaps....

And, of course, no fair using two negatives that resolve to a positive.  We couldn't not say that, now could we?



Do you run a lit journal or project that celebrates flash fiction?  Would you be interested in cross-over projects of any size on or around National Flash Fiction Day?  If so, we'd love to hear your ideas, share some of ours, and promote your events.  Drop us a line!

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'Long winter shadows' by Nic McPhee is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.




Saturday, 15 December 2018

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 inspire new writers to pick up the pen.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Friday, 14 December 2018

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. 


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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.

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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 Iceland Writers Retreat 2019 with up to 500 words on the theme of 'equality' (ideally with a mention of Iceland included as well). Deadline: Monday, 17 December.
  • For those whose flash meanders into sudden fiction territory and who would like to hear their work performed by a professional actor, Liars' League UK is looking for 800-2000 words on the theme of 'love and lust' for their next show. Deadline: 6 January.
  • The next Scottish Book Trust 50-Word Competition prompt is already live; they're looking for 50 words or fewer on the theme of 'fireworks'.  Deadline: noon on 29 January.



Thank you to everyone who has responded to our poll so far.  If you haven't replied already, we'd love to hear whether you'd be interested in writing for or helping to administrate an online Write-In event in conjunction with future National Flash Fiction Days.  It only takes a matter of seconds to let us know!

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'Long winter shadows' by Nic McPhee is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Thursday, 13 December 2018

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.

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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 a think about those character names that stick in ones head, everything from the slightly unusual to the outrageously strange (Hester Prynn; Ichabod Crane; Bigger Thomas; Ebeneezer Scrooge; Katniss Everdeen; Zaphod Beeblebrox; Albus Dumbledore).  And of course, don't forget those one-word names that couldn't be anything else (Hal, Gilgamesh, Ophelia).

Step 2

Now have a go at making up some of your own names in the same vein.  If you were naming your own Yule Lads, what would you call them?  Are there some strange combinations that you can put together that have a certain ring to them?  Give yourself permission to be playful and silly, strange and serious.  Use a timer if it helps keep the pen moving. 

Step 3

Try to write until you come up with at least one name that jumps off the page and demands to be written about.  Once you find it, let that name tell you what sort of story or scene it wants you to write about it, and then do what it says. 




We're halfway through the 2018 Flash Flood Advent Calendar.  If you're enjoying this project and would like us to do it again next year, or if you would enjoy prompts at a different time of year, do let us know!

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'Yule Lads' by eeems is licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

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....

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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!


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For an additional challenge, keep on going until you have a full-fledged novella-in-flash.  Okay, okay, that might be a little ambitious for a single day's prompt, but you're more than welcome to expand the scope of your flash suite by putting together more than just three pieces.

If you'd like a goal or deadline to motivate you, have a look at these opportunities from these UK organisations who are passionate about flash novellas and collections of flash:








If you'd like to check out the flash fiction anthologies published by National Flash Fiction Day, have a look at our new bookshop, and stay tuned for our novella-in-flash news, to be announced in late 2019.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.




Tuesday, 11 December 2018

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 
  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Slipstream
  • Action/Adventure
  • Fable/Fairytale
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Horror 
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy
  • Dystopia
  • Historical 
  • Satire
  • Pastiche
  • Children's/YA
  • Melodrama
  • Flash with a trick twist ending
  • Flash 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 registered retailers, you'll raise a free donation for NFFD.  Thank you for your help!

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'Star Wars Christmas Dinner' by Daragh Sankey (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)  

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.



Monday, 10 December 2018

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.

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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 characters
  • Write a flash in which 70% of the words are in one language and the remaining 30% in another language or a mix of other languages
  • Span 70 years within the space of your flash
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For more background on International Human Rights Day, have a look at the Resources provided by the United Nations.





Interested in doing something for National Flash Fiction Day?  Support your writing community!  If there are people, programs or publications doing great things in your local area or online neighbourhood, consider letting them know how much you value what they're doing, or perhaps even volunteering if you don't already.  If they are flash-related, we'd love to hear about them!


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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Sunday, 9 December 2018

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....

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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!).

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Flash examples of with long titles includes some of these gems (listed in order of title length), published in the 2018 Flash Flood:





In 2012, 2014 and 2015, National Flash Fiction Day ran a virtual Write-In for writers who couldn't make it to a flash fiction event around the country. We are considering reviving this project in future, and would love to hear about whether or not you would be interested in this project as a writer or as a volunteer. We'd be grateful if you could let us know via this super short survey.  Feel free to share the link with any writers you know.  Thank you for your time!


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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.



Saturday, 8 December 2018

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....

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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 when you re-reading your older stories.  This exercise is perfect for those 'darlings' that you've had to cull.

If you can't find something suitable in your own work or are just starting out, feel free to pull your sentence from anywhere!

Write your phrase or sentence on a piece of paper and put it down in front of you.

Step 2


Write a new story, just for that sentence.

Forget everything about the old piece of writing and the sentence's original context; just think about writing a story that is the perfect resting place for this sentence.

Extra credit

If you'd like an extra challenge, make the main character in your story a plant, animal, or inanimate object.

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For inspiration (or infinite distraction), have a look at:




Want to support National Flash Fiction Day?  Support our authors!  If you read or hear something you love, let the author know.  Feel free to include @nationalflashfd on Twitter or National Flash-Fiction Day on Facebook, and we'll help get your message out there.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Friday, 7 December 2018

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....

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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...

AND/OR

...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 the word 'flake' for Ad Hoc Fiction's free weekly microfiction competition.  Deadline: Wednesday, 12 December.  (Okay, we've cheated here, what with the 150 words.  But if you find yourself spilling over the 50-word limit, then this one is for you!)
Happy writing, and best of luck if you throw your hat into any of these rings!



Keen to support National Flash Fiction Day?  It's never too early to start thinking about what might want to send to our 100-Word Microfiction Competition!  We'll be opening for submissions in early 2019, but in the meantime, you can read last year's winners.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Thursday, 6 December 2018

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....

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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 news
  • Subscribe to our newsletter (see below)
  • Find us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Drop us an e-mail
  • Save the date --  Saturday, 15 June -- and say hello in person at the next National Flash Fiction Day!
To join our e-mail list, enter your details here:


We'd love to hear from you!

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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

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!

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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....

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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 with!



Want to support National Flash Fiction Day?  Send some work to FlashFlood when our submissions reopen! 

Submissions open on Sunday, 5 May, and are only open for a week, so put the dates in your calendar now.

This year, we'll be nominating FlashFlood pieces for Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, the Pushcart Prize, and more. 

Stay tuned for the lineup of 2019 editors....

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

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....

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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 recipe as in Ingrid Jendrzejewski's 'Shadow Broth'
  • Something else entirely, of your own devising.
If you finish the prompt by the end of the month, we promise to send you all the virtual cookies you can eat!

As always, feel free to join us at our private Facebook group to share work or just chat about writing.



We’ve registered with easyfundraising, a great site where you can raise money for National Flash Fiction Day with your everyday online shopping. If you sign up, we receive a small donation every time you shop, at no extra cost to you.  If you do any sort of online shopping, please consider supporting us at https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/nationalflashfd/.

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Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.






Image of 'Christmas shaped gingerbread cookies' by Petr Kratochvil.

Monday, 3 December 2018

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 by the words and phrases on the right side of the paper.  Try to get inside this character's head as much as possible. 

For an extra challenge, write a scene in which you and this main character would act in exactly the same way or come to the exact same decision about something, but for entirely different reasons.




One of the most important things you can do to support National Flash Fiction Day is to support yourself and your writing life.  After all, what would NFFD be without writers and their stories?  

It's only the third of December, but why not have a think now about one thing you can do to keep up, jump-start, or generally improve your writing practice in 2019...and then put a plan in place to make that happen! 

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'reflections (A)' by Camil Tulcan is licensed under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.


Sunday, 2 December 2018

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.

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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, you could always start one and see what it feels like! (There's no commitment to keep it up beyond today, after all.)
 
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For some inspiration, have a look at a few flashes from the 2018 Flash Flood:

What did you write, or what do you plan to write about?  Does changing it up change anything about your writing? Let us know in the comments, or join us at our Facebook group.





National Flash Fiction Day has its own traditional projects, but there is always room for new flash adventures!  As we prepare for our 2019 programme, we'd love to hear about other flash fiction projects happening in the UK and beyond that might want to run local events on or around National Flash Fiction Day 2019, or who might want to collaborate in some way. 

Do you run a flash-friendly open mic night or reading series?  Are you part of an online flash project that is interested in marking National Flash Fiction Day in some way?  Do you have crazy, flashy ideas that you'd like to explore in June or throughout the year?  Or do you know any fantastic flash writers, teachers, journals or projects that you'd just love to tell us about?  We'd love to hear from you!

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'Lighting the Menorah' by Benjamin Golub is licensed under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).


Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.



Saturday, 1 December 2018

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....

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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 Tongues
  • Those 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 easy.” Franz Kafka, 'Resolutions' (translated by Willa and Edwin Muir) 
  • “My mother was an upright piano, spine erect, lid tightly closed, unplayable except by the maestro.“ Tania Hershman, 'My Mother Was an Upright Piano'

Find yourself a magical opening lines.

Write it yourself, take the first sentence of something you've already written, use one of these, or steal a line from the beginning of your favourite flash, poem, novel, short story or script.  Nick it from a cereal packet or the instruction manual for your microwave, if you like.  Just get one.

Then, write a flash using that amazing FIRST line as the LAST sentence in your flash.

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If you'd like to share your writing, swap first lines, or just enjoy some encouraging chat with other writers who are also trying to carve away some time for writing amidst the chaos of the holiday season, feel free to join our private Facebook group.

Happy writing!




Speaking of beginnings and endings, National Flash Fiction Day is celebrating the end of an era and a new beginning this year.  

NFFD was founded in 2012 by Calum Kerr, and since then we have published hundreds of flash fictions by hundreds of different authors across anthologies, FlashFlood, and other flashy projects. We’ve had numerous readings, launches, workshops, and other events around the country to celebrate flash fiction. This was all thanks to Calum, who decided that this year would be his last NFFD.

When Calum stepped down, the future of NFFD was uncertain, but we believe that the best way to say thank you to Calum and all the writers and readers who have participated in NFFD activities over the years is to keep the project going. This year, National Flash Fiction Day will be run by three co-directors, Santino Prinzi, Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Diane Simmons, who will strive to keep the momentum going and build on what Calum started.

We can't do this alone.  In the past, events and activities have relied on generous donations and a small armies of volunteers.  And, of course, NFFD wouldn't exist if it weren't for the legions of writers and readers who come together to celebrate flash fiction.

Along with our prompts, we'll also provide you with some ideas of how you might support NFFD, your own writing communities and projects, and each other, should you feel so inclined.  However, fear not; we'll make sure all of this waffle is displayed at the very bottom of each post, so you can focus on what's most important: the writing!

As for today, if you'd like to show some support for National Flash Fiction Day, we'd love it if you shared this post with a friend, or give us a shout out on Twitter or Facebook. When it comes to writing challenges, the more the merrier!


Find out more about National Flash Fiction Day at our website or get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how you can get involved.

FlashFlood Submission Window: 25 - 31 May 2020

Flash Flood will be open for submissions from 00:01 BST Monday, 25 May to 23:59 BST Sunday, 31 May. We are happy to read up to three 500-...