SRSmith's Workshop: Flash Fiction

11 min read

Deviation Actions

Writers-Workshop's avatar

:postit: 18 September 2008

This workshop is now CLOSED. SRSmith is now reading the entries and will give feedback on Sunday. There are 15 entries for this workshop, please take the time to read them and share your thoughts, feedback and critique.

Microtrip by Amy--Louise
The Photo by ceebab
coconut milk by conorschild
Magdalena Moth by Elmara
Chaos Theory by Kitz-the-Kitsune
The Moth's Tragedy by mintleaves
Plague by neurotype-on-discord
One Night to Remember by PunknEra
Synchro City by Queen-of-Marigold
It Makes Three by RevMEATZ
Playing With Your Life by dr3amup
one girl for sundays by ruffienne
The Prisoner by squanpie
The Real Girl by TheRealPsychoPhil
2 a.m. by truepenny

:postit: 17 September 2008

There is less than a day left now before submissions for this workshop are due. Please get your entries in as soon as possible!

Thank you! :)

:postit: 9th September 2008

SRSmith’s Workshop: Flash Fiction


SRSmith, real name Stephen Smith, grew up a voracious reader; from The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, through Heinlein, Bradbury, and Tolkien, to Ludlum, le Carré and Stephenson. It was midway through this literary journey of discovery that he found Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison and William Gibson and realized that his path was going to be forever engaged in the business of the future. From computerizing the world around him, through creating solutions in code, to imagining what comes next via prose, the future is never far away.

The founder of a successful consulting and web development company, and an avid programmer and technophile, Steve can almost always be found absorbing information from print or the nets, consuming alarming quantities of coffee, and writing in either the language of men, or that of machines.

Steve has this delightful workshop for us all.

Flash Fiction

In the past few years, I've become almost completely focused on writing Flash Fiction, and specifically Flash in the SciFi genre. After writing Flash for the better part of three years, I've found a few significant benefits; first, my ability to communicate an idea in a few words is dramatically improved. Second, I'm able to edit during the writing process without breaking my rhythm. Finally, I can craft complete stories with complex ideas and subtle undertones that are short enough for people to easily read over a coffee. A unexpected benefit is when writing longer stories, I find I can communicate significantly more in fewer words than before, and I think that will make my longer works much more engaging than they might have been had I not spent so much time writing Flash.

Kathy Kachelries wrote the following as part of an essay titled What is Flash Fiction?

“The most concise and widely-cited example of flash fiction is the story Ernest Hemingway penned, allegedly to settle a bar bet: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” Despite the limitations of its length, this story, framed as an advertisement, satisfies all of the requirements of a short story: protagonist, conflict, and resolution. A reader imagines the person who wrote the ad: a parent torn apart by the loss of a stillborn or miscarried child. The reader senses the conflict: an incomprehensible feeling of loss, made all the more poignant by the fact that it is not directly addressed. Even the resolution is contained within that six-word masterpiece. By framing it as an advertisement, Hemingway allows us to see the protagonist’s coping mechanism: an attempt to distance him or herself from the loss by selling the only physical evidence that such a loss exists.

Not all short prose is flash fiction. Unlike the vignette or the prose poem, flash fiction adheres to the same conventions as a short story or novel. As demonstrated above, flash fiction gives readers a protagonist and a central conflict, and directs them to a resolution. Due to the constraints of the form, some elements can be implied rather than expressly stated, but a story that begins in media res still holds the shape of its unwritten beginning."

A short introduction to a longer story is not Flash, although it's a common mistake to make when trying to write it. Flash must stand completely on its own, with no requirement for explanation or pretext. As Kathy stated, because you have a limited amount of space in which to work, some things can be implied and left for the reader to flesh out in their own mind, however you cannot leave the reader without the necessary pieces to put together what has happened. The story must be complete.

The workshop task is to write a piece of Flash Fiction. It can be in any genre you feel comfortable in, it doesn't have to be SciFi (that's just my personal preference). Good Flash Fiction starts right in the middle of the action, develops interesting characters through the activity of the story, may have a twist or unexpected ending and doesn't waste a single word. As with any good fiction, but more-so with the shortened format, show - don't tell. Everything you need to describe to the reader mustn't be at the expense of the action or the story; make us see where the story takes place through the actions of the characters within it. If you can use a single word in place of two, do so. You don't have many, so don't waste them.

365tomorrows limits submissions to 600 words or less, and adhering to submission guidelines is an important skill for writers as well, so for this exercise, 600 words is the upper limit.

How to Submit

After submitting your entry as a new deviation or scrap, send us a note with a link to your piece. Include the subject line "FLASH" in your note. The deadline is midnight 17th September 2008. All times are set for GMT. SRSmith will respond to the entries on 21st September 2008.

A note from Writers-Workshop Please note that this is a PROSE workshop, meaning that we will accept only prose entries. Proofread your work before you send it in so that grammatical and spelling errors are minimal. And most of all, have fun with it!

:postit:On Accepting Critique

:bulletblue: Always thank the critic. This gratitude must be as sincere as possible, even if you did not like the critique given, because the critic has taken time to offer his/her opinion of the piece.
:bulletblue: If you do not like the critique, it is not necessary to mention so. Simply thank the critic and move on. You can always ignore their suggestions, while not making a scene of it.
:bulletblue: If you are unsure of what the critique means, feel free to ask the critic what s/he meant. Building rapport with your critic is one of the best ways to survive in a workshop and to learn. If you want examples, ask. Similarly, if you like the suggestions given, mention it. Critic's have feelings too. :)
:bulletblue: In the unlikely case that a critic offers rude/sexist/racist/etc comments, feel free to contact Writers-Workshop in a note and we will try to help you. A decision regarding the rudeness of the critique will be taken, and if we're not sure ourselves, we will consult with one of the GDs or anyone else high up on deviantART.

:postit:Call for workshop hosts!

We're looking for people to come along and host a workshop! Did you know that any member can partake in a workshop? If you have a good idea, then why not consider sending us in a proposal?

We ran a poll last week to find out why people hadn’t applied to host workshops and it turns out the main reason is a lack of confidence. We would like to encourage everyone to have a go, regardless of status, symbol or popularity. We’re looking for good workshops and want to ideally be booked up for the rest of the year.

So if you’re interested, take a deep breath and send in a proposal!

:postit: It would be fantastic if you also...

:+favlove: our news article!

Please note that due to the delay of sending this workshop out, we will accept all late entries received on Thursday 18th September towards this workshop. Thank you

Journal CSS by GinkgoWerkstatt</b>
© 2008 - 2024 Writers-Workshop
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
BeccaJS's avatar
Nice turn out guys, really well done!