Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Short-short Story

The short-short story or flash fiction intrigues me. How can you tell a story in 150 words, or less? Can such a piece - rather should such a piece be called a story?

Today I read this article by a writer who found that he could produce this short fiction

I 've tried my hand at it and have not been happy with  the results.

Last year, I think - ( this year is flying by so fast sometimes I don't know which year I am talking about)- a bookstore in Jamaica had a competition for a 24 word story. It created a buzz in the writing world here and I think they got a lot of entries. Then they started publishing the winning story and a few others. As in any competition, many were unhappy with their choices, and the whole thing seemed to have died quietly. They stopped publishing the entries and nothing more was heard. They did have an evening of readings by the authors which unfortunately I couldn't attend, and never managed to connect with anyone who actually went. I hope they repeat the competition this year

 I entered, largely as a challenge to myself. Could I produce something that made sense in 24 words? These were my entries

It was a different Christmas. Green bananas ran through the streets ringing bells, while oranges marched when the trumpet sounded. Jonkunnu change fi true!
To shackup or not? We’re both over eighty. Harder to decide       than when  we were just twenty. 'At your age?' Our children disapprove.

Here's what I understood after writing. The second 'story' TABLES TURNED would be better for a competition as it deals with a situation with which many can relate.There are shared assumptions to fill in the blanks. Actually I could have left out the third sentence and it would still make some sort of sense.
The first 'story' deals with a special situation in Jamaica. Late in December 2011, the country had a general election. The situation in this 'story' is very localized  The two main political parties have adopted the color orange for the PNP and green for the JLP. The JLP uses the bell as a symbol and the PNP's traditional song is The trumpet has sounded.  Jonkunnu refers to traditional Christmas celebrations. I thought this 'story' was clever, but,without this background knowledge, ADVENT wouldn't work for the reader.

I am still learning.
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  1. That Guardian article you found was very good, especially tip #3.

    I actually entered that really really short story competition and was unable to go and read my entry sadly. Re Advent - even as a Jamaican I didn't pick up on the change of govt theme x_x awful lol.

    Anyway my entry read: War rains down around us. In the bombed out shelter of our home, I turn to my husband's dead eyes and whisper "We're pregnant."

  2. I guess that judging such a competition must be difficult.