Falling into flash fiction

Today, I have as a visitor the lovely Allison Symes, to tell us how she fell into flash fiction, and all about the writing form. You can read my review of Allison’s collection From Light to Dark and Back Again here. But now, it’s over to Allison, and she’s even treating us to a couple of examples of her work, and I am particularly keen on the second one!

I “fell” into flash fiction writing. It hadn’t been part of any plan. I certainly hadn’t expected my first book to be flash fiction. I’d submitted short stories (up to 2K words) for competitions and some were shortlisted, which was great.

Cropped Version of my reading at railway station

Some are published on Cafelit (equally great!), but I spotted on their website what they called The 100-Word Challenge. I gave it a go to see if I could do it. I think it is a good thing for writers to challenge themselves sometimes but I admit I wasn’t sure I could meet this one, because to that point I’d needed every single word of a standard short story competition to write my tales.

To say 100 words is cutting it fine is an understatement! To my surprise I became addicted to the form. I also write 250-word, 500-word and 750-word flash fiction pieces too (there’s a good selection of each in From Light to Dark and Back Again), but it was the 100-word tales that kept drawing me back. My next favourite category tends to be between 100 and 250 words).

To tell a story in two or three short paragraphs teaches you good editing skills. I soon spotted what my wasted words were – “that”, “actually” and “very”. What do they add to a story? Precious little so out they came and I now look for these in everything I write. (Occasionally I will use very for emphasis but usually plump for something stronger). You learn which words convey the most meaning for the shortest number of words.

The nice thing about flash fiction is being able to set the tales anywhere. I have set many of mine in a fairytale/fantasy setting but also have others based in reality. I have also written the odd historical piece and I share two of these below (which I hope will make it into my next book). The important thing is each flash tale must be complete, there must be no words out of place or not needed, and you’ve been able to project images (of character, setting etc) into your readers’ minds. Technology has encouraged this form of writing to take off as it is so easy to read on screen (as well as in print).

About Allison

img_20170814_132122.907Allison Symes writes fairytales with bite (aka quirky fiction) as flash fiction, short stories and novels. Her page on Cafelit is http://cafelit.co.uk/index.php/meet-our-authors/2-uncategorised/99-allison-symes. She is a member of the Association of Christian Writers and the Society of Authors. She adores P.G.Wodehouse, Jane Austen and Terry Pratchett. Allison’s website is https://allisonsymescollectedworks.wordpress.com/ and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today at http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/author/allison-symes/


GETTING IT RIGHT by Allison Symes (@2017)
I wish historians would do a proper job. You would think they would record the facts but the truth is not one have quoted me properly.
As for a certain playwright, if I still had blood in my body, it would be at constant boiling point whenever he was mentioned. I shudder at the thought. Shudder from anger you understand. I would have had more respect if he admitted he was writing what you now call propaganda for his Queen and government. (I understand that!).
I did not say “My Kingdom, my Kingdom for a horse”. I never did flee from battle. I was determined to live or die a King at Bosworth.
What I said was “If I ever get my hands on that treacherous bastard, Stanley…”.
It is funny how that never appears in the chronicles.

NOT KNOWING by Allison Symes (@2017)
You must understand I was brought up to do my duty. That comes above everything. Everything I tell you. I do not know what happened to my brothers. I know what I believe happened but have no proof. It is safest to say the official verdict is open to question. A lot of questions. One day someone will ask them. One day all members of my family will be buried with honour. What happened to him after Bosworth was… my fiance says it all happened so quickly, there was no time to ensure a proper burial and it is best forgotten now.
It probably is. No good can come out of asking awkward questions now. There have been dark forces at work and even I would not be safe. I must focus on now. I cannot help my brothers but can help my sisters. They will marry well. I will see to that. My fiancé has seen it is the best thing to do. It rewards his most important followers and brings our royal houses closer together.
So I am working to unite the realm. I will lead the way with my marriage. There must be no more war. I am saddened at how much damage has been done. I hope my children will have the bright and prosperous future my brothers had stolen from them. That would give me some consolation.
I am Elizabeth of York, shortly to be Henry Tudor’s Queen. Pray for me. Nobody knows who I light candles for when I am in church. My uncle will know though.


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