Hello and today I welcome Mark Bacon, author of Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words to my blog for a guest post on flash fiction. As always, grab your drink of choice from the bar and a bean bag chair while you enjoy this great post.
Click on Mark’s pic to be taken to his place on the Web.
Click on the book cover for the Amazon Buy Link. It’s only 99 cents!!! You can’t beat that.
Mark S. Bacon 622 words
Your quick, daily dose of literature
By Mark S. Bacon
Tired of wading through that ponderous novel? Wishing authors could get to the point a little sooner than page 589? Try flash fiction.
In the time it takes you to brew a cup of coffee or wait on the phone for tech support to answer, you could read an entire story, start to finish. Maybe two.
Although short stories may even predate the novel, flash fiction is a relatively new form of literature. Hard to define, because many editors, writers, bloggers and others have their own ideas of how long they should be, flash fiction stories are generally under 1,000 words. A popular form of the genre is 100 words; some editors tell writers to stop at 50 words. Flash fiction is a short, short, short, story.
Can you really tell a story in, say, 100 words? That’s what I wondered when a friend challenged me to try it. He came across the 100-word story idea as an exercise in a writers’ group.
Writing a complete story in exactly 100 words is harder than it sounds. It was a challenge and one that I tinkered with for months. Finally I got the hang of it. I insisted that each story have a beginning, a challenge to the main character and a satisfying conclusion. After some time, I realized I had enough stories to fill a small book, and “Cops, Crooks and Other Stories in 100 Words” was born. Since I’m a mystery/suspense fan, many of my stories take the form of very small mysteries or cop stories. Here is one sample:
Honor Among Thieves
The darkened home looked empty. Pete tried the front door. Locked. Around back, he jimmied open a patio door with a credit card.
Immediately, he saw a man holding a pillowcase full of something.
“Shit. You startled me,” the man said. “First time I ever seen two guys break into the same house. I came in the window. But hey, I believe in professional courtesy. I’ve got jewelry and laptops. Rest is yours.”
Pete opened a drawer, reached inside.
“Hold it,” Pete said, pointing a revolver.
“What about professional courtesy?”
“I forgot my keys,” Pete said. “I live here.”
Flash fiction is a sometimes quirky but immensely popular art form. Here are a few measures of its popularity:
Dozens of colleges and universities, including Stanford, University of Virginia and Washington University in St. Louis offer courses or seminars on flash fiction. The Virginia course description calls flash fiction, “an emerging genre of ultra-short creative writing.” Flash fiction is also taught at Brown University, UCLA, SUNY Plattsburg, New York and many other institutions.
More than 300 print and online publications are dedicated to flash fiction. Duotrope, a website that matches writers with publishers, lists well in excess of 300 journals, magazines and other publications that feature flash.
Hundreds of flash fiction contests are held annually. The contests range from impromptu competitions hosted by bloggers to official awards ceremonies such as the annual Micro Award, founded in 2008 by author Robert Laughlin to recognize outstanding flash fiction. Editors as well as flash fiction writers themselves enter stories for the Micro Award.
Flash fiction anthologies by nationally known writers are climbing the sales charts. Lydia Davis, Etgar Keret, Margaret Atwood and Raymond Carver are among some of the more accomplished professionals in the genre.
Smith Magazine has published a series of popular books containing 6-word stories or memoirs. The publishers invite people to submit 6-word life stories. The latest book in the series is called, “Six Words About Work.”
If six words seems inadequate to tell a story, but you still don’t have time to digest volumes, flash fiction, from 50 words on up, can be your daily bite of literature.
Mark Bacon began his writing career as a southern California newspaper reporter covering police and general assignments. Since then he’s written several business books, one selected by the Library Journal as one of the best business books of the year and printed in five languages. His articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers and most recently he was a regular correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle.
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