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  1. #1
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    A flash fiction - Circle

    I don't usually do flash. I am more of a novel and short story gal! But this was for a contest and it didn't place. Might be because it is crap... or it might be that it just wasn't right for them.... or any number of reasons.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks and hope you all had a great Christmas, or whatever you celebrate.

    ***

    CIRCLE

    “If you return to the place where you began, the circle will be closed.”

    Words on a card. Stark white in his black hand. The door in front of him made from walnut; with a huge metal knocker the shape of a lion’s head.

    In this pretty tree-lined street, kids ran with sticks, and rode bikes, or jumped over bright yellow fire hydrants. He watched two little boys squabble over a car tyre. Ruddy faces and big brown eyes; dried snot trails under their noses.

    Did the boys belong to him? To his line? Was their blood the same?

    Far away, the hum of the big city. He knew that at the end of this street, if he looked south, he would see the island with its skyscrapers like sentinels.

    He thought he had never been in this country. But he had.

    “If you return to the place where you began, the circle will be closed.”

    His father, back in England, knew his own parents. Fine, beautiful people both, from Jamaica. Big and black with hearts so full of love it spilled out over their children and grandchildren; was enough for everyone.

    Enough for him, until he learned he would soon be a father himself.

    Close the circle. Find the line and the other side of him. Find what or who had diluted his skin from the ebony of his father to a deep mellow brown.

    Thirty years ago he had been born – here, as it turned out. Behind the walnut door with the head of a lion.

    He touched the lion’s face. Knocked.

    Would her hair be grey? What colour her eyes? Would they be blue? Would he see himself mirrored there?

    “If you return to the place where you began, the circle will be closed.”

    The door opened.



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    You didn't push an emotional button or people your story with caricatures. That's the hallmark of flash fiction. This is kind of a vaporous, unfinished vignette without a point.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
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    The problem with most flash fiction is you can't tell a real story in 100 words or less. You can't have developed characters or much in the way of plot. That's why I don't read much of it. The pieces I wrote for this and this were all closer to a thousand words, so they were more like short stories.

  4. #4
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    Rogue Mutt

    I totally agree, I'm not used to being so limited! It was kind of an experiment and out of my comfort zone. I'm much better at the short story - 2000 words and up - I just wanted to see what reaction I would get.

    I'll check out your stories. What's your writer name (or would you have to kill me if you told me. ��)

    I have a story in http://www.amazon.com/Bath-Short-Sto...rds=Bath+short if you're interested ��

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Nope, can't tell a real story with flash fiction. You gotta press an emotional button or populate your story with extreme characters. At least, that's what the "best" flash fiction does.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Oberon View Post
    Nope, can't tell a real story with flash fiction. You gotta press an emotional button or populate your story with extreme characters. At least, that's what the "best" flash fiction does.
    I can't agree. You can tell one of loss and sadness in six words: For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

    You can tell a self contained horror story in seventeen words, as Fredrick Brown did in the first two lines of, Knock: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..." You can shorten it by one letter to: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door..." And shorten it further to eleven: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a locked room."

    There's lots of decent flash fiction. Most attempts at it stink for the same reason most attempts at fiction stinks: the author thinks in terms of telling a story, not entertaining the reader, and get bogged down in informing when they should be evoking emotion and empathy in the reader.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greenstein View Post
    I can't agree. You can tell one of loss and sadness in six words: For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
    That's not really a story though. It's a prompt. It's only sad if you make it sad. The thing we instantly think of is that there's a dead baby but really it could just be that the parents bought too many shoes or maybe some relative gave them a really ugly-ass pair of shoes they don't want. Really all it shows is how morbid we are that we instantly go there. Your buddy Swain says stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end and clearly six words doesn't.
    Last edited by Rogue Mutt; 12-29-2015 at 02:38 PM.

  8. #8
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    John

    I respectfully disagree with you about not being able to tell a story with flash. A story is an "account or recital of an event or a series of events". A story does not have to span days or weeks or years of a character's life. You may not personally think I did it well, but my story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It tells of a man who is shortly to become a father, and who has recently discovered that his mother, who is of a different ethnic background, lives in another country. And he has gone to find her. The country is strange to him, although he was born there. He muses about what she will be like, and at the end of the story, the door opens. This makes the reader wonder himself what she will be like, and what their relationship will be from this point.

    I am not saying it is a perfectly written story, but it is an entire story - a snapshot from a moment in someone's life. Stories happen every day in our lives: on the train ride home we see two people have an argument. In the park, we witness a child's first experience of feeding the ducks, and how it makes him laugh. Those are complete stories, however brief.

    I am sure the "best" flash fiction writers would have a lot to say to you, and I would agree with them. I have read some stunning flash fictions that are indeed complete (and beautiful) stories.

    I agree though, that you can't tell a story in 6 words. But you can certainly *evoke* a story in the reader's mind, that he makes up himself. And that is the point of the six words, I believe.


    Debbi

  9. #9
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Debbi,

    Yeah, a snapshot, vignette...that's what I said. You told no story. There was no beginning or end. It was all one moment in the middle. I don't know why this fellow is where he is or how he got there or when it is happening. I don't even know what country he's in. All you've done is put a man of unknown age and background in front of a door to a home that is supposedly his mother's. And as with most flash fiction like this, the question is always "So?"

    Jay,

    I can't agree. You can tell one of loss and sadness in six words: For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

    You can tell a self contained horror story in seventeen words, as Fredrick Brown did in the first two lines of, Knock: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door..." You can shorten it by one letter to: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door..." And shorten it further to eleven: "The last man on Earth sat alone in a locked room."


    Yeah, like I said, you can either press an emotional button or fill your story with extreme characters or situations. That's flash fiction.

    There's lots of decent flash fiction. Most attempts at it stink for the same reason most attempts at fiction stinks: the author thinks in terms of telling a story, not entertaining the reader, and get bogged down in informing when they should be evoking emotion and empathy in the reader.

    If by "decent" you mean sketchy vignettes that press an emotional button or present extreme characters or situations, then I agree. There's tons of it. That's about as "decent" as flash fiction gets.

    I guess we differ. I think telling a good story IS entertaining. I think that's HOW you evoke emotion and empathy from the reader. To each his own.

  10. #10
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    You're right. It's not a story. It's a six word novel. Inherent in those words is the inciting incident, the pregnancy. There is rising tension and excitement implied, over a period of months, and there is the climax. The story is clearly a tragedy, and the denouement is inherent in the fact that it's an advertisement.

    Were you not convinced that the details of the plot is what makes a story a story—or a mother—I wouldn't have to be explaining this.

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