Short & Short Shorts & Flash
Of course there are plenty of guidelines for the writing of short fiction. And a normal moth sticks to the rules. For a while. Sometimes I wonder if rules take the form of those tiny cardboard pyramids, ten dollars from Coles. A sticky surface entices the hungry moths to a slow death. My calculation, imperatives spell agony. The reality, short stories come at me as a great rolling wave that sucks me dazed and delirious into a sea of words. I can’t swim and a delicious drowning begins.
Short short fiction evolves softly softly squatting in a puddle and feeling the mud ooze between my toes. I don’t know why. Maybe apply the four ‘S’s. Smooth Sensuous Subtle Succinct. Hang on. The idea of summary feels powerful. Does it? Make it shout, I mean short. Shouting and shorting like electrocution.
Flash fiction kind of taps at my forehead and says let me in. So, I do. Later a whole Flash knocks from inside my skull. Let me out. I won’t take up much space. Believe me, you will experience this. You might have already. No? Then avoid traps, sense, search for waves, electric puddles, listen for tapping, the inevitable howl for
I wield an axe in a windowless room decorated with plots, themes, characters, tones, tense, shifts in time, credibility. Give the story some air. Okay. I chop my way through a wall into the next room and so on until I reach the Right Room. The pared and sleek and magical room. The room in possession of a shiny sensational ending. Sometimes there are many walls. I get crazy with the axe. No one comes near me.
These days I jiggle out bits of flash fiction. Crumbs, delicate treats, tasty morsels lighting up the room. Yes, that room. Can this be learned? I don’t know. I tried. Last December. Flash Fiction Workshop New York City. Instructor incredibly loud and extremely vocal. I take notes. My attention wanders. The instructor chats a lot. I jot down various thoughts mixing them with his random flashes.
Flashing The Chit Chat
You can write whatever you can get away with. Except graphic sex in YA novels. Go hard on research. Just squeeze the bread. Be the character. Be half masochist and half essay. A hayseed rube douche bag seems fun. You want to be that. Your eyes bug out and a rib cracks if you try to stop a sneeze. Lynch what a great name for an undertaker. Dress small children in decorative leads. Cats murder butterflies. A shield covers a man writing in fragments. His clothes are all socks. Search for the birdbath. Poetry is good for you like fruit. Oh, and broccoli. Pop secrets aren’t popcorn. Do you understand? You have to lie a little bit. Make shit up. Let it pop. If you put a gun in your story, the gun goes off. (My gun bangs a nice friendly bang.) Maybe shoot the annoying bible salesman. How to steal a wooden leg or a bible. The instructor doesn’t care if we call him Pete or Peter. People have identity on their minds. You can do anything. Except tickle yourself. The plumbers of Spokane reek of weed. Those plumbers tell you how to fix the toilet on the phone. No, the toilet is not on the phone. Spokane smells of weed. So, does Sydney. You should be able to hear your heart. Beat. It’s a poetry thing. What if a book is really a face. Watch yourself. Learn the names of everyone. Find a man called Barry Honeyset. Elephants lack the ability to jump. How do you get love? Love comes in a flash.
Judyth Emanuel has short stories published in Overland Literary Magazine, Electric Literature Recommended Reading, Literary Orphans, Intrinsick, Fanzine, Quail Bell, STORGY, One Page and Joiner Bay Anthology. Her stories are forthcoming in Thrice Magazine, Verity Lane, PULP Literature. She is a finalist in The Raven Short Story Contest, semi-finalist for the Conium Review Flash Fiction Contest and shortlisted for the Margaret River Short Story Prize. In 2016, she was awarded a Residential Fellowship at Varuna Writers House NSW. In 2013, she was accepted into the One Story Writers Workshop at the Centre For Fiction in New York.