Celebrating all things ‘flash’!

Tomorrow is National Flash Fiction Day, a day started in May 2012 by Calum Kerr to celebrate the rise of the fiction genre increasingly known as flash fiction. And a post recognising the day seems appropriate as I seem to be immersed in flash fiction at the moment.

The idea behind flash fiction – also described as  very short short stories, micro-fiction, sudden fiction, palm-sized stories, among others – has been around for a long time, but it is only latterly (partly as a result of the internet) that its popularity has grown and been widely celebrated.

Ernest Hemingway is credited with one of the most famous flashes with the six-word story: For Sale – baby’s shoes. Never worn. However, many other famous writers have engaged with this particularly challenging literary  form. The difficulty lies in the fact that despite its brevity, the basic fictional elements that underpin the short story and longer fiction: character, setting, conflict, resolution, still need to be in place, even if only by implication.

For the second year running, I’ve been involved with the Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash Fiction competition. Following an item about micro-stories that I heard on Radio 4 just before Christmas 2011, I discovered the name of Calum Kerr who wrote a flash-a-day for a year and who also initiated the project to set up a day devoted entirely to the genre. I was intrigued as I had recently been experimenting with very short fiction and the idea for the Worcestershire Literary Festival Flash competition was born!

Calum Kerr agreed to share the judging with me – and we were off! The first competition was very successful with entries from all over the world. The photo shows Calum and me with last year’s winner, Amy Rainbow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUntitledWe (that is WLF, Polly Robinson and me) also published an anthology with some of the stories.

The success of last year’s competition was repeated this year, again judged by Calum and me. It culminated in a wonderful event last Saturday where a selection of the short and longlisted stories were read, together with the three winners being announced. Calum and I both read flashes of our own at the event, and this year, Calum’s lovely wife, Kath – who has undertaken her own year-long flash challenge – also read one of hers.

My mind is also preoccupied with future flash events. My flash fiction ‘Dexter’s Lover’ was one of ten winners in this year’s Fish Publishing competition, and in July I’ll be travelling to Ireland for the West Cork Literary Festival where the Fish anthology with the winners of the short story, poetry and flash fiction competitions will be launched – and I’ll be reading ‘Dexter’s Lover! Spiffy, or what?!

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  1. Debbie Young says:

    Interesting post, Lindsay, I didn’t really you were so involved with flash.

    I only really “discovered” flash last year at the time of NFFD and am completely hooked! I am really thrilled that one of my flash stories has been chosen to feature in Flash Flood this year, NFFD’s official journal and look forward to writing a lot more before NFFD 2014. Hats off to Calum Kerr – and to you too!

  2. Polly says:

    Dexter’s Lover is a wonderful story – perhaps made even better when you know the story behind the story – congratulations, Lindsay, on your successes with the two WLF events you describe above and more particularly for your success with Dexter’s Lover and the Fish Publishing prize. Any room in your suitcase for a little one? 🙂

  3. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Polly – lovely of you to say so. And yes, I wouldn’t have ‘got’ ‘Dexter’s Lover’ without ‘Errol’s Eyebrows’ – the two belong together really. You could definitely go in my suitcase, but Aer Lingus might say it was excess baggage – however little!
    And the success of the two WLF flash events wouldn’t have happened without you beavering away behind the scenes.

  4. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Debbie, and congratulations on having a story in the Flash Flood. Flashing is addictive, isn’t it?
    Calum Kerr is obviously the main flash man, and we’ve been lucky that he agreed to share the judging with me and come to our events. And, although I was already writing very short fiction, it was only when I heard the item on Radio 4 about Calum writing micro-stories for iPM, that I thought of suggesting a flash fiction comp for Worcestershire Literary Festival. It was great that it coincided with the first ever NFFD.

  5. Christine Steenfeldt says:

    Happy NFFD and congratulations on your Fish win and the success of the FF competition for WLF. Will the winning entries for this year’s comp be on their website?

  6. Lindsay says:

    Thanks, Christine. I imagine the winning entries will be on the website, although I don’t know for sure – they might save them for the anthology!

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