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'Salvation' and the concept of Flash Fiction

I recently participated in a writing exercise with a critiquing group. The rules were to author a tale in 100 words or less from the first person omniscient point of view (POV). Layman's: the character tells the story using "I", "my", and "me" (first person), and has awareness of their costars' internal thoughts and feelings (omniscient). This was my submission:


I dedicated my health to 30 years of his colds and flus. So when they discovered my inoperable brain tumor and he bolted, I was understandably pissed. It’s been a week since I started hearing people’s thoughts because the treatments stopped working. The doctors say I have 2 - 6 months.

Standing beside the freeway, I scan for my salvation. Someone who deserves justice. Slammed with snapshots from each passerby, I muster the courage. Inhaling deeply, I take my final steps.

At the scene, emergency crews find 2 bodies. The trunk contained a young woman the driver strangled an hour earlier.

I really enjoyed writing this. It challenged me to step outside the box in the following ways:

  1. I have always used third person limited. The most common to fiction writing, third person is when the author narrates from one POV at a time using "he/she/his/her/character name". Limited means the narrated character is only aware of his/her internal thoughts/feelings. Only somewhat related: If anyone is wondering about second person, that's when the writer addresses the reader directly with "you/your/yours". In literature, this POV is mostly used in non-fiction situations.

  2. I am a prolific writer. Participating in a flash fiction writing exercise forced me to stay at exactly 100 words or less. Aside from emails and texts, 'Salvation' is by far the shortest thing I've ever written.

  3. Last but not least: flash fiction is risky business. It demands the writer to jump over the abyss clutching Link's chicken instead of wearing fall protection. Sorry, a bit of video game humor there. I'll elaborate, though I can't promise the absence of more analogies. Successful storytelling involves 5 important elements: Context, Conflict, Climax, Closure, and Conclusion. Let's call them the 5 Cs. Your average flash fiction is between 1 and 1,500 words. As a writer, such restrictions can quickly turn a story into Schrodinger's cat. After confining your creation inside that box, the question of whether or not you killed it ticks at the back of your brain. Sometimes an author can tell when something they've written is an abomination deserving of fire. Most of the time, however, we are too emotionally involved to see anything other than a beautiful brain-baby. One of the many reasons good beta readers and editors are INVALUABLE. For a writer, listening without taking offense can be difficult in the beginning. We are the worst sort of helicopter mom. If we feel our creation is being threatened, we will defend it. Which leads me to my favorite saying, by William Faulkner: In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” He was not just referring to characters, as one might think. He's also talking about deleting words, side-plots, internal/external dialog and phrases that are near and dear to the author's heart. The execution of this is very Marie Kondo. If it doesn't advance the story, it is clutter and must be thrown away. I take this to heart during the editing process. It eases the pain of watching my favorite inside jokes and pet references die. But I digress... Flash fiction is the embodiment of 'killing your darlings'. Ideally, such a story will have all 5 Cs. But the word count keeps the author from doing much more than introduce them. When writing micro fiction, the goal is story movement and the kind of closure that will sting with mystery.

Currently, I am working on works of flash fiction that will relate to the Shattered Lives universe. They will be standalone tales for the newcomer, and Easter eggs for those who read my books. Unlike Salvation, these works will have a limit of 1,000 words. The first to be released will be titled "Collared", and will reveal the day Corbin's mother met his father.

Most of the flash fiction for Shattered Lives will available here on my website. Some of it will be submitted to flash fiction publishers, with the hope they'll let me post a link to the story on my site. You, my dear followers, will be the first to know which goes where! Especially if you sign up for my mailing list!

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