Nostalgia City Mysteries

By Mark S. Bacon

Tag Archives: fast fiction

Flash fiction, episode two

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I’m pleased to publish the second installment of the flash fiction story “Stone Motor,” about a different kind of rebel band. Each of these pieces is 100 words. If you missed the first story, it’s reproduced below, followed by the second episode.

 Stone Motor

by Jim McCormick

Stone Motor played a gig in the music room of a moss shrouded, antebellum mansion near the Mississippi. Its audience included the usual bland tourists and a blue-haired guide named Maude, who disclaimed the South’s loss in the War between the States. Lately, she’d been trying to poison visitors from up north with complementary mint juleps. Melvin Carnahan of Boston accepted one and he expired as he drove off the plantation. The band’s lead singer was arrested; seems he had a likeness of Jeff Davis tattooed over his heart. Soon after, Maude seized the mike and the rest was history.

civil war stuff

Shortly after joining the band, lead singer and murderess Maude Dossage changed her name; she wanted a stand-alone nom de guerre. Slightly bent in her 80th year, red hair exchanged for blue, she told the Stone Motor boys her name was now Mudd. Sympathy with the Confederate cause persisted; she hatched a plot to do in Brooklyn born drummer, Grant Getty. Mint julep concoction again? No! Too good for Getty. He got it one cool evening when Mudd laced his doobie with strychnine; he never even made it to the bandstand. Thereafter, the smug Miss Mudd doubled on percussion.

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Faulkner’s fresh look at flash fiction

Everyone has his or her idea of what constitutes flash fiction.  I’ve noted this before.  Defining flash fiction by word length seems the easy way to do it.  Problem is, few editors and writers can agree on the various labels to attach to say, 100-word stories, 1,000-word stories or even 25-word stories.

Flash fiction, however, is more than numbers and no one has explained that better than Grant Faulkner, editor of “100 word story,” in a recent New York Times op-ed piece.   Talking about his introduction to the miniature genre, Faulker says, “Most of my writing life has been a training ground of ‘more,’ so I rarely conceived of less.”  But when a friend of his suggested he try a 100-story, he was at first exasperated.  “At best, I could chisel a story down to 150 words,” he writes, “but I was frustrated by the gobs of material I left out.”

This frustration led Faulkner to examine his writing habits and eventually he discovered “a different kind of storytelling.”  The balance of his article beautifully describes flash fiction in qualitative and rather than quantitative terms and, perhaps without intending to, makes the case that flash should be an integral part of a comprehensive literary education.

“Flash allows literature to be a part of our everyday life,” he writes, “even if we are strange multitasking creatures addled by a world that demands more, more, more.”

The New York Times used Faulkner’s article as the basis for a language arts lesson plan on flash fiction, part of its Learning Network.  The lesson plan references a relatively recent book edited by Robert Swartwood, “Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer.”  In his introduction, Swartwood establishes a hierarchy of story length: sudden fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, drabble and dribble, the latter being 50 words.   Obviously, his final category is hint fiction of 25 words.

“Hint fiction,” he says, “should not be complete by it having a beginning, middle and end.  Instead it should be complete by standing by itself as its own little world.”

Twenty five words seems a bit too short for a story.  But not too short for a hint of one?

 

Hyperlinks:

Going long.  Going Short. by Grant Faulkner

Flash fiction lesson plan

Hint Fiction edited by Robert Swartwood

What does “other stories” mean?

Reviews of Cops, Crooks & Other Stories in 100 Words have been good.  One reviewer, however, lamented what he said was the scarcity of crime/detective stories in the book.  Honestly, it’s more than 50 percent.

But yes, “& Other Stories” means there are other genres represented.  Here’s a sample, with apologies to Robert Service.

Strange Things Done in the Valley of the Sun

I never understood why my neighbor, Sam, ever moved to Phoenix from northern Canada.  He hates the heat. In the middle of summer he complained bitterly, then descended into a deep depression.  His wife was concerned.

One day she called me, said Sam had disappeared.  She was worried he might have ended it all.

We searched the house, then I remembered the old chest freezer in their garage.  I threw open the top.

Sam was motionless, his flesh transparent like ice.

“Please close the lid,” said Sam. “You’ll let in the heat. This is the first time I’ve been cool.”

Tucson trail E

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