“Kenkey for Ewes and Other Very Short Stories”

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It gives us great pleasure to finally publish this long-overdue anthology. To anyone who may be asking “What is flash fiction?”, you can orient yourself here.

We are grateful to all featured authors for their patience with us during the protracted editing period.

Download your copy here: Kenkey for Ewes and other very short stories

Happy Reading,
The FlashFictionGhana Team.

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A Wonderful 2014 of Flash Fiction.

2014 has been yet another great year here on the Flash Fiction Ghana blog and we have YOU our loyal writers and readers to thank for it. Your submissions and your readership has kept this blog alive this year also.

We have great plans for 2015 and your thoughts, wishes and prayers are very welcome. We look forward to greater Ghanaian story telling in the New Year. As a little Boxing Day present, we have below a compilation of the first lines from all the #FridayFlash stories we published this year. Happy Reading!

Dear Lord,

It’s 4am. The entire neighborhood is quiet and those bloody cats are mating right outside my bedroom window, I’ve had to turn the music up although I like to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon with the volume low. Those felines sound too human, Lord, it is very disturbing! Not that I’d rather hear humans do it, but animals should sound like animals.

“Candid” by Amma Konadu Anarfi.

When Matilda and I got married, I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into. Ewuramma had just left me. I’d lost my job too.  Akwesi warned me about this; “too soon chale”, he often said when I started talking about Matilda. He’d listen anyway; who doesn’t love sizzling descriptions of a friend’s passionate side? Oh, I went into detail when it came to Akwesi, and he too he won’t stop me, that foolish guy. But after everything, he’ll tell me that he’s been there before, and it doesn’t help at all. Especially when she wants to move things quickly, get married, the kids, settle, that’s how they put it.
It’s not that I was careless – I was desperate at that time. I didn’t want to be alone. I’d been left stranded. I wasn’t myself. And she was sweet, my goodness!

“Undying Love” by Jesse Jojo Johnson.

I stand back deciding whether to take his offer or not. Tonight is the last night. What do I have to lose?

“A Fresh Start” by Vanessa Appiagyei.

Ajeiiii!!!” Ama squealed as her ear was grabbed and twisted by an unseen hand. Efforts to free herself made her invisible attacker twist harder.

“Framed” by Abena K. Karikari.

Kuntu felt his halo turn steadily into a set of devil’s horns. His clerical garbs of neatly pressed Kaspar shirts and pairs of gentlemanly trousers – with lines so sharp they could cut with the slightest brush of one’s finger – were slowly changing into devilish robes.

“Kuntu’s Halo And A Set Of Devil’s Horns: Part 1″ by Nii Moi Thompson.

He saw her. She hadn’t noticed him. That was the way he liked it. Kweku sat beside the wall and leaned lazily on his chair, books opened before him, pen tip in mouth, eyes fixed on her. She was buried in something and nearly oblivious to what was going on around.

“February Night” Jesse Jojo Johnson.

It was barely 7am, and I had rushed to the Private female ward to see Nurse Elma. Once again my boyfriend had beaten the hell out of me and I wanted Elma to dress my wounds before I went to my ward. I entered and gestured to Elma to come out. Then someone whispered my name in a tired, eerie, raspy voice reminiscent of ghoulies and ghosties in horror movies.

“Mercy Killing” by Akua Serwaa Amankwah.

The first thing you noticed about the room was its dreariness. The dark curtains responsible for the gloom also incensed the study with the smell of mothballs. Large, with an ornate dining table at the center, its meagre light came from a lamp placed in a corner. There were volumes on philosophy, anatomy, and medicine in a bookshelf, as well as several books on paleontology and the breeding of dermestid beetles.

“The Taxidermist” by Jermaine Kudiabor.

Mrs. Quarshie flipped the page and continued reading as if she couldn’t hear the commotion that was going on in the class. It was Friday and the long awaited weekend was here. It was almost three o’clock and everyone had started packing. I could see the excitement in their eyes; they couldn’t wait to go home. I on the other hand wished Mrs. Quarshie would read on and on, I wished I could freeze time so the clock would never strike three.

“Home not-so-sweet Home” by Stephanie Gertrude Mensah.

The two men sat opposite each other at the little round table in the corner of the café. There was a little bustle all around them, but neither man spoke after their earlier terse salutations of ‘Good Afternoon’. Both men avoided each others’ eyes and they had their reasons. One did not want the compunction to be noticed in his pupils. One did not think his umbrage ought to be revealed in his irises. And so they sat in silence, and looked everywhere but at each other.

“The Photo Album” by Prosper Kwao.

Maya had been my best friend ever since we were in Primary 6. That made seventeen years now. Apart for a few quickly-resolved arguments, we got along swimmingly, even to the extent of having a double wedding last year — she to her man, Kwaku, and me to mine, Aaron. Maya had always been an amazing, steadfast friend. I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

EDƆ” by Ivana Akoto Ofori.

Nii Afotey bent over the aluminium bucket with his shovel in hand. He diligently scrubbed the shovel with a metal gauze and soap. He was once a mason but that was a long time ago, when he still had youthful hair on his head and teeth that could bite bones. Now his only pastime was doing menial jobs around his compound and scrubbing his precious shovel weekly.

“Ritual Penance” by Kuukua Annang.

No one understands why a seventeen year old boy like me has a seventy-three year old best friend. But then again no one shares in the memories I have of Mr. Vic or Old Man Vic for short (which is quite ridiculous seeing how it is longer to pronounce than ‘Mr. Vic’ is). If they did, they would have understood. But we are human beings, we don’t have to completely understand something to dislike it, or label it as weird or abnormal. No matter how wrong that is, it’s something I have come to accept.

“Old Man Vic” by Antony Can-Tamakloe.

She stared up into the sky for the millionth time that day. Well, probably not into the sky, but into the bright gold spots of light that seeped through the canopy of dark green mango leaves. The sun’s rays painted dancing patterns against the background of leaves swaying in the breeze. She felt a bit like them, these leaves that moved not of their own accord, but simply swished wherever the wind blew. Occasionally, one would fall gently to the ground, another addition to the grave yard of varying degrees of rotting leaves lying beneath her feet.

“The Rustling of The Leaves” by Adelaide Asiedu.

The fiery flame was vaporizing my wax; I was growing shorter by the minute. Cached in one corner on a Milo tin on top of an old wall unit between mold-smeared walls and furniture, under rotting window frames, silhouetted against peeling paint flaunting damp patches, my drooling wax was the least of my concerns. It was the rain. It was threatening the leaking aluminium roofing sheets with torrential patters. As Sima lifted her bathed baby from the plastic basin to wipe it, she realised I was almost dead.

“The Flood” by Neuki Nuertey.

Kwame typed a few words on his phone and hit the send button. He smirked at himself, and gently dropped the phone on the table. As he lifted his cold glass of alcohol to his lips, he stole a glance at the couple happily giggling away in one corner of the restaurant. At such a time of the night and at such a place notorious for cheating mates, there was little to suspect about them.

“Observations” by Kofi Boadi.

My mistake was not waiting for instructions from the other side. Without clearance, I shot up into the night sky, my thick black hair flapping against my face. Times had changed, and we did not usually fly out at night, on Thursdays or Fridays. It was too dangerous.

“Warfare” by Edem Dotse.

Rain is here. I wash my clothes and I wait in fear for the element that desires nothing more than to prove my work futile. There’s nothing like the paradox of a Ghanaian night in May to spark memories. Indoors- ɛhyew wɔ mu: it’s hot. Outdoors-awɔ de me: I’m cold.

“Musings on a May Night” by Ivana Akoto Ofori.

Lying in bed, but with his eyes wide open in the dim-lit room, Mawuli stared at the whirring ceiling fan. He shook his head as Mansa’s snores echoed through the bedroom. He turned to look at her curled up in the thick grey covering, and his thoughts immediately transitioned into memories.

“The Stir” by Emefa Adzo.

He had ordered for me to recite from memory the incantations he had just taught me. I was in the middle of it (stuttering and gulping often) when my boss, Chief Priest of Komkosu, Nana Bonsua fell on the floor of his shrine in what I concluded to be an epileptic seizure.

 “The Apprentice” by Akosua Brenu.

“NO!”

Aku jolted out of her bed, panting heavily. Her heart was racing, she slowly came to terms with her surroundings and sighed deeply, Not again. Oh God, not againMaybe I should go and see Pastor Owusu like Frank suggested, she thought to herself, All my reading has gotten me nowhere.

“Wide Awake” by P. K. Opoku.

I have always liked the clever ones.

“Friend” by Jesse Jojo Johnson.

Evenings with Nkansah would always culminate like this. With horseplay fuelled by alcohol and other substances, sitting in his car parked outside my house. He would talk excitedly about how beautiful the country was becoming, that he felt like more and more like a stranger every time he returned. I would laugh and remind him that the rubbish heaps behind McCarthy Hill were still high as ever. He would smirk and pinch me chidingly.

“Kenkey For Ewes” by Edem Dotse.

The dress is red. Tight. Actually, it’s more than tight, its seams cling to my body. Its red and my brown could easily be the same fabric, but my brown is skin and the red is my dress.

“Red Means Stop” by Adelaide Asiedu.

PaaJoe died on a late Sunday afternoon. When the call came through, I was seven houses away in my girlfriend’s uncle’s house, humping her on a teal colored mat that was unapologetic to my already scarred knees. The phone rang at 3:24pm. It was Junior.  Junior never called unless PaaJoe was roasting his ass for something he’d done or screaming from the base of his testicles.

“Teaching My Grandfather How To Stay Dead” by Poetra Ama Asantewa.

Mrs. Dadzie was first on the scene. Her first reaction was to gasp and then cover her mouth immediately. She turned around and darted into the bedroom to call her husband.

“An Occurrence In The Dadzie Home” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

Alone in his grandfather’s cluttered garage, Akpiti flung his arms heavenwards in despair. “I need to train for the big race tomorrow”, he muttered under his breath. But the lawn needed levelling, and the tiles on the roof, some fixing.

“The Race” by Nii Moi Thompson.

I still remember the feeling I got when we talked. When I thought of you. When I was with you. When you texted me, I wonder if you smelt it too. The scent of desperation and hope. My desperation and hope. Clamouring at my insides, the gut feeling that something was wrong. Slowly pervading and eating my insides until it’d wormed its way up into my mind, and before I knew it I was affected with the parasite of depression. I knew you were wrong for me. I knew you were happy with someone else as I sat there alone, hoping, praying, that I was the only one you were texting.

“Christmas Day” by Jade Kankam.

Dark clouds grumbling overhead meant today was going to be a bad day. He had been out a few hours but he had nothing to show for it. His basket was still heavy and discomforting his infant skull. The downpour throughout the night made many oversleep. The streets were not as packed as always. Traffic eased by, which for a street hawker was terrible, but joy for the drivers.

“A Rainy Morning in Accra” by Hakeem Adam.

You get home and ask of your sick ma.

She is with the traditional priest.

You sigh. These people have not changed. It has been fifteen years since you left the village. Your kid sister stares at you. She misses you. You tell her to prepare something for you to eat. She smiles. She is a woman now. She will be thirty years old next month and is still waiting for a husband. The village folks say she is either cursed or you sacrificed her marriage to get wealthy. It baffles you that human beings with brains can think like that.

“Un-Memory” by Kwabena Agyare Yeboah.

September 2004

We started Primary Five in high spirits. School was especially fun because most of us had gotten new school uniforms and new shoes and new everything. And most people had the chance to make new friends while the rest settled for their old friends from Primary Four. I got a bubbly girl, Alice, for a best friend. That Alice was smart was a lovely bonus, I knew she would help me with my sums (I hated Math). We were thirty students in Primary Five ‘A’, and our teacher was a pretty lady called Mrs Ellis. At first we all thought she had a big tummy, until Alice told me Mrs Ellis was pregnant, and she knew that because Mrs Ellis was a patient at her mother’s maternity clinic.

“Ona” by Akua Serwaa Amankwah.

Each of us wore a frown on our faces. Each of us had legitimate reasons to be angry. But her frown was different. It had more wrinkles and it formed a more visible web on her brow. But, yes, each of us had legitimate reasons to be angry.

“Oedipal” by Andrew Teye.

Dela tried as much as possible not to make any noise at all. He found himself in an awkward position, but there was nothing he could do about it. You know how sound travelled far in the forest at night. It was very dark.

“Taboos” by Antony Can-Tamakloe.

It was all my fault. It has always been my fault. It was my fault since the first chuckle at your cheesy one-liners and it has remained my fault since then. And now, especially now, it is my fault.

“Faults” by Akosua Brenu.

Abeiku did a quick mental calculation. It was 12:30pm and it was fairly safe to assume there would be close to no police at their posts. A lot of people had used the highway already and they should have amassed enough bribes for lunch. Seeing a long stretch of road ahead, he stepped down on the gas pedal and allowed his Range Rover to show off her true potential.

 “Commander” by Amoafoa Smart.

I kill. Ruthlessly.

“I Kill” by Hakeem Adam.

I intend to knock, but my knuckles, of their own accord, give off a loud banging sound. He opens the door and recoils as if he has seen a ghost. He mumbles inaudibly. I present my face like a weapon.

“Collecting a Debt” by Daniel Hanson Dzah.

The Man:
There is a scent that follows me anytime I have a cold. But I can’t explain why it is here now. I don’t have a cold. Maybe it is because I’m nervous. Yes, that has to be it. My colds make me nervous around people. This is because of how embarrassing my sneeze has always been. It’s a high pitched sneeze always followed by a loud, involuntary snort that has plagued me since childhood. I used to get laughed at when I was a child, yes. Even up till now, I still get smirks from people. It has to be the fact that I’m nervous.

“Another Love Story” by Antony Can-Tamakloe.

Second Anniversary!

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It has been two wonderful years of flash fiction from this blog. We remain amazed at the increasing creativity in the stories submitted and we appreciate the great efforts being made to carve out a more distinct idea of a Ghanaian context.

We are absolutely proud of the community we have together built, and to borrow an expression of author Malaka Grant, this “e-real estate” produces a vista worth relishing.
We look forward to a widening of our community and better quality and creativity in the  flash fiction we publish on the blog. As always, we are also urging greater experimentation with the genre.

To mark our second anniversary:

1. We have switched domain names.
So, you can now simply type flashfictionghana.com and you will still find the largest collection of Ghanaian flash fiction stories.

2. We introduce to you… @233tooli on twitter.
This is an initiative with the intention to tell terse, twitter-size Ghanaian stories. Inspired by @veryshortstory, you will be seeing a lot of Ghanaian context pushed into the attractive 140-character stories.

3. We will be publishing classic flash fiction from a selection of published authors.
For inspiration and motivation to keep the genre very much alive in Ghana, we’ll be publishing flash fiction from a number of published authors. And so, for the rest of the week on the blog, we will bring you classic Ghanaian flash fiction.

A Wonderful 2013 of Flash Fiction.

We have had a wonderful year of reading and writing on this blog. The Team has been pleasantly surprised at the raw talent and level of creativity displayed in the submissions we have been privileged to review in 2013. When the idea for Flash Fiction Ghana was conceived, we looked forward to a wide variety of themes in the stories we would publish on the blog. It has been a delightful experience and an extreme honour to have these many and varied stories on the blog.

All year long, we have made it a point to comb the internet and elsewhere for Ghanaian writers in all possible genres. The intention has been to encourage a mass foray into Flash Fiction. We believe that, as writers, we owe it to the Ghanaian literary scene to keep writing our stories. We have tried to maintain an adherence to Ghanaian context in our stories and though this remains difficult, the majority of the submissions we received this year leaves us very hopeful about Ghanaian fiction in the future. The adept expression of universal literary themes in Ghanaian context has been especially comforting. We have seen exceptional imagery and diction in the most unusual Ghanaian contexts. We look back at some of these stories and consider it an honour to have read such beautiful Ghanaian writing. Here are excerpts of some of the amazing words strung together in our published stories:

The old man’s eyes swept the narrow living room. It was quite well-furnished. Its soft, comfy sofa with handsome embroidery rested in a carapace of an Ivorian mahogany frame; legs tipped in golden stands. The ceiling fan was the latest Binatone, and the floor was turfed with a red carpet flaunting beautiful zig-zag patterns. The light-blue bulb illuminated the room, painting their silhouettes against the impeccable wall where their engagement picture hung uncertainly.

-“The Well” by Nii Moi Thompson.

 

It was exactly six pm in the evening. Every ardent lotto lover knew what such a time on a weekend meant; winning lotto numbers! We were all attentively glued to father’s Agege radio set. He had bought it on his return from somewhere in Nigeria called Agege many years ago. “Agege is like my first son. He cost a fortune!” he would always remind us. It was one of those few possessions of his which he cherished most.

-“Lotto Agege” by Kobina Amoa Ansah

 

“Do you know what it’s like to be dying?”
The question was asked so innocently, it wrenched my heart to realize that it came from none other than a sixteen year old girl.

“I’ve known that feeling since I turned 65,” I reply, in a gruff voice. I can’t handle being in the room. I’ve worked long enough at the hospital to know not to talk to dying patients. It made their deaths just routine, and never to be taken personally. I try to leave again. My fingers are on the door handle when she speaks again.

“I’m dying,” she states simply. My grip on the door handle slackens a bit.

“We all are,” I say, “from the time we were born.” I mean only to be frank.

“Marie” by Antony Can-Tamakloe

 

“Maa Adwoa.” He called out. She hadn’t noticed he was already by her side.

“Mawuli.” She smiled- the type of smile that hides faint sadness.

“Me pa wo kyew, ma me-”

“Airtel.” She cut him off, as she did nowadays.

“Yes, ai-”

“-airtel five cedis.” She handed him a used card. He would not know the difference.

He tried to explain when he couldn’t find any money, but she waved him away. She let him stand under the cool shade of the umbrella, fumbling with his card and his phone. Then she watched him walk away finally, shaking her head sadly.

“Airtel Five” by Edem Dotse.

Asem rattled throughout the dawn until the first golden ray pierced the dawn and broke it. He wanted to rush home to tell his master the strange tale of the birds and the twig-men, but his limbs were too weak from shock.

When his master finally arrived on the field to lament his loss, Asem tried to recount the horrid episode to him, and how the scarecrows he made had become allies to preying birds. Yet, all Ntow could hear were the exasperating barks of a found dog that got lost in the woods.

“The Wily Twig-men of Asempa” by Nii Moi Thomspon

I heard the car door slam shut before I even saw him coming. I was staring anxiously at my phone screen. My eyes were squinted, partly from the back-light and partly from the last blazing rays of the setting sun in the distance. A trotro horn honked loudly, and inaudible obscenities were hurled behind me as he climbed in. I revved the engine, and jerked forward only to be stopped by the row of stagnant vehicles.

“Steel Arrows” by Edem Dotse.

 

When her eyelids parted, she wasn’t even sure she had really opened her eyes. Lying still, all she could see was a disturbing pitch black. Slowly, her tiny hands registered feeling. Then her back. Then her buttocks and legs. She felt folds of cloth beneath her, but the surface underneath the cloth was hard and rough. She was lying in a warm, funny-smelling liquid; the cloth had done a poor job of soaking it up and it was all over her legs and thighs. Confused, she sat up sharply and in panic. Her eyes tried to focus and adjust to the darkness but the best they could identify were oddly shaped silhouettes randomly moving about.

“The Kelewele Seller” by Karen Okundayor Bright-Davies.  

 

 

Konadu shifted from one foot to the other. She stared, confounded. This was not how she had imagined it.When she was buying her plane ticket, she had imagined him being remorseful, beside himself with grief and unable to bear the pain he had caused; full of excuses, none sufficient. When she boarded the flight, she dreamt of him offering the heavens to make amends, which she naturally refused. She didn’t want anything from him- or did she?

“Open Closure” by Maame Abenaa Agyekum

 

Funerals are the fuel of family feuds.  The intensity of a funeral is an emotional fire hazard.  In the Duah family, Adwoa had always been the fiery, outspoken one.  No-one was surprised to hear her yelling near the coffin on the day of Daddy Duah’s funeral.  The drummers did their best to mask the disorder but stoutly-built Adwoa had a powerful voice that rose above theirs. The dancers also tried, alternating between drowsy and delirious dancing. But Adwoa’s large limbs in mad motion held the attention of the mourners. It was to be expected. The only surprise was in the victim of Adwoa’s anger: her own younger sister Akosua, who was kneeling in fresh tears at their deceased father’s side.
“The Selfish Child” by Yaw Busia

 

My mother woke me up that day. It was dawn. “Sesi…Sesi,” she called me. I looked at her face. In her eyes was a light I hadn’t seen in a long time. My mother was happy. “Let’s go,” she said, “It’s time.”

Even for a little girl, I understood. The rules were down and unwritten. But we knew them. Take all valuable things, the rest got left behind. No torches. Women should carry as much food as possible. Children should remain silent. But the one rule I thought to be most funny, was the most important: Everyone should escape, walking backwards.

“The Walls of Notsie” by Antony Can-Tamakloe

 

Just A Year Ago

Hip, hip, hip!

Hip, hip, hip!

Dear reader,
Before we even knew it, a year has come by since this project was launched. Whoa, right?

Over the last twelve months, we’ve been overwhelmed with the talent for flash fiction in Ghana. There’s a lot out there in the wild we did not expect to see last year, when it all begun. Thanks to our dedicated authors and readers, we harvested from the fertile field to present the best of Ghana’s flash fiction to the world.

The short form allows us to see glimpses of the Ghanaian world view from various contexts. Well suited to our fast paced life, the success of the project is largely due to the enthusiasm with which flash fiction has been embraced by our young writers.

Throughout the last year we’ve seen posts ranging from horror, comedy, suspense to speculative fiction; the latter proving (to our pleasant surprise) that many genres could be adapted to our unique cultural context.

The response has been encouraging, and we’ve seen posts that have shocked, pleased, amused and inspired us. But this is just the beginning, folks.

We hope to bring the world even more flash fiction from Ghana. The selection of writers has been too small to our liking. A recent drive to get more contributors on board proved successful. We intend to continue this, because we’re certain there are many out there with more talent than they know. As our store of stories grows, we will become more stringent in our submission guidelines. The aim has always been to bring out the very best of Ghanaian flash fiction. That will not change.

In the next year, we look forward to bringing our collected stories to you in more innovative ways. It’s been a joy working with wonderful writers and engaged readers, and we know things will only get better with time.

In the spirit of brevity, thank you.

 ~from the Flash Fiction Ghana Team

Briefly,On Brevity.

chickenbrevity

 

Every word counts. That’s the myth, I believe, of flash fiction. It’s a literal truth, surely, when one is given only so many words to make a flash. But that’s often the extent of the advice flash fiction writers get about working with brevity: make every word count. As if such a thing were possible.

So what does it (really) mean to work with brevity? I won’t keep repeating this warning, but here it is one more time: of course, all that follows are my subjective ideas about writing, and are in no way meant to represent the all of writing.

Imagine an opening sentence, like this one:

The bullet not meant for the driver of the car missed him, instead hitting the passenger next to him. (19 words)

Brevity might impose itself on this sentence first by looking at “less wordy” ways of expressing the same idea. For example, driver of the car might become the car’s driver. Two words recovered! The him after missed him might not be needed. Another word! So that leaves us with this:

The bullet not meant for the car’s driver missed, instead hitting the passenger next to him. (16 words)

In a world where every word is trying to matter and literally counts, then implication becomes another tool of the writer working with brevity. Does driver imply car? Does passenger imply next to him? If so, we now have this:

The bullet not meant for the driver missed, instead hitting the passenger. (13 words)

What about not meant for the driver modifying bullet? Is there a word that captures that sense? What about this:

The stray bullet missed the driver, instead hitting the passenger. (10 words)

But is brevity only about cutting things to the barest essentials? I think it’s also about adding “weight” to the words, to see how much information, theme, backstory, character (and so on) each word might carry. The who of this story might be more clearly defined by this addition.

The stray bullet missed the driver, instead hitting his wife. (10 words)

Notice how the his implies the driver’s gender and relationship (husband). Why did the bullet miss? I always think having a character be somehow responsible for the action adds interest and tension. How might the husband be responsible in some way? What if he had ducked at the sound of gunshot? How might brevity help get that information into that sentence? What word might capture that movement: Duck? Dodge? Evade? Is the husband someone who dodges things in general? Maybe. But missed the dodging driver sounds odd and unclear to me. Maybe the sentence needs to be changed so the driver is doing the action.

The driver ducked, the stray bullet instead hitting his wife. (10 words)

Does it make sense why he ducked? Does that need to be made clear?

At the sound of the gunshots, the driver ducked, the stray bullet instead hitting his wife. (16 words)

or

The driver heard gunshots, ducked, the stray bullet instead hitting his wife. (12 words)

Does that second sentence kind of capture the husband’s progression, so that the sentence itself hears it, ducks, and then veers elsewhere? Maybe. The original sentence clocked in at 19 words. What might we do with those other 7 words?

The driver heard gunshots, ducked, the stray bullet instead hitting his wife. Reflex, he said, in the ambulance. To leave me uncovered, she said. (24 words)

Oh, no. Five words over the original 19! That won’t do.

The driver heard gunshots, ducked, the stray bullet just missing his wife’s heart. Reflex, he said, in the ambulance. To leave me uncovered, she countered. (25 words).

Oh, fudge. Now six words too many.

The driver heard gunshots, ducked, the bullet barely missing his wife’s heart. Reflex, he said, in the ambulance. To dodge, she countered. (22 words).

Getting there. Now three words too many.

He heard gunshots, ducked, the bullet barely missing his wife’s heart. Reflex, he said, in the car dialing 911. To dodge, she countered. (23 words).

The driver heard gunshots, ducked, the bullet barely missing his wife’s heart. Reflex, he said, awaiting help. To dodge, she countered. (21 words)

Wait! If this is the first line, maybe the title can help out in some way. What if the title were “While Driving”?

He heard shots, ducked, the bullet barely missing Sara’s heart. Reflex, he said, awaiting help. To dodge, she countered. (19 words)

So what is brevity exactly? I don’t know. It’s about getting words to count more than they might in other less-compressed forms. It has something to do with being aware of needless words and the power of implication. It’s about adding weight to words by making each one carry a number of important things within the story. The above opening might incite a story in which the man’s reflexive desire to “dodge” keeps leading to that shot (of Cupid?) missing his wife’s heart, and this incident brings that conflict to the surface. His reflex runs counter to what the wife imagines love should be; he should reflexively protect her, not duck out of the way.

*This post was written by Randall Brown and culled from flashfiction.net. It can be read here:

http://flashfiction.net/2013/01/flash-fiction-craft-so-what-is-brevity.php

Flash Fiction. What? and How?

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Flash fiction is a form of short story writing that is very tight and concise. It pulls the reader into the story with the barest minimum of exposition and gets into the middle of the conflict quickly. A flash fiction story does have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but those elements occur in as few words as possible.

With the advent of the Internet, editors are looking for shorter works, more easily read on a computer screen. The current term is “flash fiction”, a tale between 300-1000 words long. Longer than micro-fiction (10-300 words) but shorter than traditional short stories (3000-5000 words preferred by most magazines), flash fiction is usually a story of a single act, sometimes the culmination of several unwritten events.

Writers of flash fiction are very passionate about this writing form. It has been around for quite awhile, but has really become a popular form of writing since its enthusiasts have been able to spread the word and share their writings through the Internet.

Here are seven great steps that could help in writing Flash Fiction.

1) The small idea

Look for the smaller ideas in larger ones. To discuss the complex interrelationship of parents and children you’d need a novel. Go for a smaller piece of that complex issue. How kids feel when they aren’t included in a conversation. What kids do when they are bored in the car. Middle child. Bad report card. Find a smaller topic and build on it.

2) Bury the preamble in the opening

When you write your story, don’t take two pages to explain all the pre-story. Find a way to set it all in the first paragraph, then get on with the rest of the tale.

3) Start in the middle of the action

Similar to #2, start the story in the middle of the action. A man is running. A bomb is about to go off. A monster is in the house. Don’t describe any more than you have to. The reader can fill in some of the blanks.

4) Focus on one powerful image

Find one powerful image to focus your story on. A war-torn street. An alien sunset. They say a picture worth a thousand words. Paint a picture
with words. It doesn’t hurt to have something happen inside that picture. It is a story after all.

5) Make the reader guess until the end

A little mystery goes a long way. Your reader may have no idea what is going on for the majority of the story. This will lure them on to the end. When they finish, there should be a good pay off or solution.

6) Use allusive references

By using references to a commonly known story you can save yourself all those unnecessary words. Refer to historical events. Use famous situations from literature. If the story takes place on the Titanic you won’t have to explain what is going to happen, who is there or much of anything. History and James Cameron have already done it for you. Beware of using material that is too obscure. Your reader should be able to make the inferences.

7) Use a twist

Like #5, the twist ending allows the writer to pack some punch at the end of the story. Flash fiction is often twist-ending fiction because
you don’t have enough time to build up sympathetic characters and show how a long, devastating plot has affected them. Like a good joke, flash fiction is often streamlined to the punch-line at the end.

One purpose of ‘Flash Fiction GH’ is to have Ghanaian settings, names and situations in flash fiction stories. This will be evident to any remotely Ghanaian reader and thus, we cannot set the bar for everyone. For instance, we cannot dictate that a village Aneum setting is more Ghanaian than an urban East Legon setting for your story. However you wish to write your story, do make sure it betrays ‘Ghanaian-ness’(no matter how undefined that is).

Hope these tips help. Get to writing!