Category Archives: flash fiction

Fiction that is shorter than 1000 words

Short and Long – #FlashFiction

The third exercise from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is called Short and Long. First, write a paragraph in sentences of 7 words or less, no fragments. Then, write a paragraph that is all one sentence. I decided to choose the same subject matter for both of the pieces of flash fiction that follow. Which do you think works better?


The red sky burned brighter than fire. Streaks of smoke filled the air. Screaming children ran through smoking fields. Orange embers drifted through the air. Dead grass swayed in the wind. Singed leaves floated down the river. Heat swelled beyond the fire’s edge. It burst forward, ever expanding. The front grew, gobbling up acres. The blaze swallowed farms whole. It spit out charred tree skeletons. Blackness trailed the flames. A small girl’s lungs constricted. Her breathing was slow and labored. Her wheezes were louder than the fire. Her steps slowed. Her energy waned. She stumbled, falling to her knees. Then, she grew silent.


The wind roared as fire crackled into the air, smoke rising up and up and up into the blood red sky, a sky more fierce and vibrant than flames, a sky filled with thick smoke, particles, sparks, and embers floating through the air, landing in blackened fields dotted with the skeletons of trees still steaming; children ran through these fields, fast as their little legs could carry them, screaming though their lungs burned–one young girl in particular, wheezing, coughing, sputtering as she stumbled, falling to her knees amid charred soil, energy waning as she gasped her last breaths while small feet pounded past her upturned face.

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Punctuation – #FlashFiction

The second exercise from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is all about punctuation. Write a paragraph without any punctuation at all. Is it readable? Does the subject matter fit the format? What follows is a short piece of flash fiction that I wrote for this exercise.


The line of people camped out around the electronics store building buzzed with anticipation at five minutes till opening on Black Friday when the clock struck seven am the buzz built into a roar as people packed up their tents and sleeping bags and foldable camp chairs some began to shove and push and shout and trip and fall and bruise and skin knees the click clack of keys in the door could only be heard from inside the store where an army of employees in blue shirts prepared for the onslaught of battle the doors burst open nearly shattering the shatterproof glass blue shirts shoved aside as the stampede flooded into the enormous room trampling over tidy displays knocking over cardboard cutouts advertising aspects of the sale battered blue shirts hunkered down behind counters and cash registers fingers ready to call in the police for backup if necessary chaos reigned a cacophony of yells and shouts customers breaking into fist fights over the last new game cartridge TVs flashing a variety of nature programs and music videos and action-packed movies as customers emptied the store of its contents the riot died down to embers individuals complaining demanding a rain check on the sale price of the item in question management pointing out the advertisement small print while supplies last

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Focus on Sound – #FlashFiction

The other day I was at the library browsing through the non-fiction section on the craft of writing, and I picked up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. I’m going through the exercises, which has been really fun so far, and I thought I’d share them with you over the coming weeks.

The first exercise is about focusing on sound (onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, etc., but NOT rhyme or meter). What follows is a short piece of flash fiction that I wrote for this exercise.


The seaweed sits on the beach, strung like a strand of pearls of varying size and imperfect shape. A glowing amber against pale sand, soft and gritty between my toes. A slimy sheen reflects the blinding white sky. Fanned feathers create circling shadows of relief from the sharp glare. The deafening crash and whoosh of waves assaults the sandy shore, leaving uneven trails of salty foam wiggling across the tide line. Damp footprints cast from bare skin lead up and down and in and out of the surf, disappearing, melting away, then forming again, first soft, then more defined. A toe dragged in the sand draws a line, a curve, a face at once playful and knowing. Paw prints dance a swirling samba circumnavigating driftwood, punctuating the damp beach next to trailing vines of kelp. The aftermath of a crashing wave laps cool, salty water over exposed toes and stings the freshly cut skin of my sole.

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Beyond the Words, a Scripting Change project

Hello faithful readers!

I’m happy to announce that I have a piece in the new Scripting Change anthology, Beyond the Words. Check it out!

Scripting Change Cover Reveal & Release-day Blast

The community writing project, Scripting Change, is incredibly excited to announce the release of their second anthology: Beyond the Words!

Absolutely every piece of this e-book, from the coordination, to the contents, to the beautiful cover art, was volunteered, and 100% of proceeds will be donated to nonprofit organizations championing literacy in their communities.  Read on to find out why!
About the Project:
Scripting Change is a writing initiative that aims to bring together the vast community of writers and readers in support of responsible nonprofit organizations.
The project accepts submissions from writers, relating to a theme that reflects an important cause.  The selected pieces are combined in an anthology which is published as an e-book, in this case: Beyond the Words.  Proceeds from this and every Scripting Change e-books’ sales are donated to the matched organization that champions each e-book’s cause.
By focusing on the compelling words of writers, Scripting Change is able to raise not only funds but also awareness for the causes of the organizations they support.  The time and talents of everyone involved are offered freely, so the project has absolutely no overhead costs, which means every dollar raised is donated to positively impact our society!
About the Nonprofits:
It is impossible to overstate the importance of literacy, yet so many struggle with this crucial skill. So, Scripting Change has decided to donate proceeds from Beyond the Words to not one, but three nonprofits throughout the United States, all of which foster literacy in their communities.

Read for Literacy

    , in Northwestern Ohio, provides learning opportunities for readers of all ages and backgrounds, with three tailored programs: Creating Young Readers, for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade; Adult Basic Education; and English Language Learners, for non-native English speakers.

Literacy Action

    , in Atlanta, Georgia, offers an incredibly wide array of literacy programs for adults — from literal reading assistance, to workplace literacy, family literacy & education, and much more, this organization provides its community with crucial support, enhancing so many lives!

Page Ahead

    , in Seattle, Washington, focuses its literacy efforts on children, allowing elementary-school children to browse book fairs at the end of the school year & choose their own books for the summer — which are then provided to them by Page Ahead! They bolster this program by also working with parents, helping them engage their young readers.
Now it’s your turn!
Scripting Change depends entirely upon the support of the community as a whole.  The writers, and our cover designer, have done their part; the coordinators have brought it all together; the bloggers have graciously helped us spread the word – now it’s up to the readers.  We hope you will enjoy the anthology!

Beyond the Words is available through:

Smashwords ~*~ Amazon: USUK ~*~ Barnes & Noble

Learn more about this project at: ScriptingChange.blogspot.com
Find them on Facebook or on Twitter: @ScriptingChange

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Slow Jazz – #FridayFlash

Nina Simone’s deep, bluesy voice caressed the speakers. I trailed a finger across my collarbone and my hips moved of their own accord, a gentle rocking side to side. My foot left the floor, knee bending. My arch followed the curve of my calf, then my leg straightened to the side. My hands outlined my silhouette and stretched above my head. My wrists bent and my fingers swirled through the air like smoke. I bent forward and my shoulders danced.

My sultry gaze met yours—you, who watched my every move. A slow ecstasy bloomed on your face as my tongue tasted my lower lip. You started to stand, but I waggled my finger at you and you relaxed into your chair with a grin.

I raised my left eyebrow as Nina said “I want some sugar in my bowl.” You downed your scotch and I turned around. My toe slid across the floor as my shoulder dipped. I leisurely slinked toward the door. My palm slid up the doorframe, and I glanced over my shoulder, beckoning you with a nod.

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A remix of a Nina Simone song came on to the Pandora station I was listening to, and that combined with watching Leslie Caron dance in “Daddy Long Legs” last night inspired this flash fiction piece (I know it’s not Friday, but I’m still calling it #FridayFlash).

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The Swing – #FridayFlash

This week’s #FridayFlash takes me back to the freedom and innocence of my youth.

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I sit on the chilled, curved plastic seat and grab hold of the chains. My legs pump forward and back, forward and back. The swing takes me higher and higher. I am weightless each time the swing changes direction. I tighten my grip and lean back, close my eyes. They open to the dense canopy far above.

Thick branches full of needles reach toward each other. Tiny green pinecones sprinkle the scene, just beginning to grow. I breathe in the heavy scent of fir, point my toes forward, flex back. Point, flex.

I can see them coming before they land. Fat drops of icy rain. Closer and closer. They fall on my cheeks and forehead, shatter into dozens of smaller droplets that slide back into my hair. They stick on my eyelashes. I blink them away. Reposition my hands. On the next swing forward, I push myself into the air, eyes closed, and I fly. For one breathless moment, I am in the canopy, between the trees.

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Camouflauge – #FridayFlash

Wet strips of flesh peeled away from his face, and like unset paper maché, slid to the ground in gooey clumps. Beneath lay his true form, a facade of dented cast titanium. His normally blue eyes glowed orange, indicating a CPU error. His cadaver tongue swelled in his mouth, like it was melting. If it detached, it would clog his internal fans. The light of battery-powered LEDs behind the thin glass veneer of an iris and pupil reflected off his pockmarked cheeks. He trembled as his flesh failed him, revealing his metal underskin.

Recent advances in tissue engineering enabled the growth of flesh strips, but apparently failed to knit them together in the field. Perhaps it was the stress of exposure to his hot, titanium underskin. Even with air ducts inside his nostrils and mouth expelling hot air to the rhythm of artificial breaths, his surface temperature exceeded 110 degrees fahrenheit.

He could add a fan between his rounded buttocks to better cool his torso. His left ear fell to the floor in a cartilaginous clump. He hadn’t even had the chance to don pants and use the jingling of coins in his pocket to distract from the whirring of his mechanical joints. His internal fans sighed, long and loud. Perhaps he could engineer an artificial substance that imitated human flesh. He could grow larger cultures over a wire mesh to provide a more durable structure.

All he wanted was to pass for human. He tore off his toupee. The hair felt coarse to his fingertip sensors. The dead flesh piling around his feet began to smell. What a disaster. Why couldn’t humans just treat androids as equals? Their intelligence, though artificial, surpassed the intellect of ninety-seven percent of the human population.

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I injured my shoulder last week and I’m just starting to get back to typing, so my apologies for the radio silence. I’d love to hear what you think of this #FridayFlash fiction piece. I wrote it as a response to the following prompt:

“The flesh peeled away from his face in wet strips.”

from City of the Dead by Brian Keene

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Memory – #FridayFlash

“I think I’m losing my mind,” Sandra said.

“What do you mean?” Anna asked.

“I…” Sandra took a deep breath. “My memory is like a cheesecloth and events are water–they drain right through, leaving behind a mushy mess.”

Anna’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Names, faces, what used to be tidied away in neat arrays is now stored in a broken, leaky container.”

“Uh-” Anna shook her head. “I want to say something comforting but I honestly can’t think of anything.”

“I forget to refill my prescriptions. Sometimes I even forget to take my meds.”

Anna pursed her lips. “Can you set alarms or something?”

“I use several. But maybe not enough. Or I don’t pay enough attention to them. I feel like if I don’t act on something right away It’ll just melt into the ether.”

“I wish I could help.”

“That would be nice. I try to use paper to supplement my memory, but then I have to remember to look at my notes, which are now so scattered and lengthy it’s overwhelming to even think about sorting through them all.”

“Maybe you could set a timer for twenty minutes or so and see how many you could get through? You could do that a couple of times per day.”

Sandra nodded. “That might work.”

“The brain has incredible neuroplasticity. Maybe you could try exercises or play games to try to regain some functional memory.”

“I used to be so good at memory games.”

“You could try to learn a new language, too.”

Sandra bit her lip. She didn’t reply right away. Anna leaned in to force eye contact.

“Yeah,” Sandra said. “That’s a great idea.” She excused herself and drove to the library. She loaded her arms up with a variety of books and CD’s. She would learn Thai. She loved the food, and what she’d seen of the culture. Maybe she could plan a trip to Thailand to reward herself. If her memory could support learning the language.

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Zombie – #FridayFlash

I wrote this week’s #Fridayflash as an exercise in writing a quick #flashfiction mystery. How did I do?

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Sleep drained the blood from my veins. Nothing circulated to my cramped muscles or tired brain. I couldn’t think, but I could hear. A clattering of sounds: buzzing, beeping, chattering, thumping. I tried to yawn, but couldn’t move my mouth. I strained to open my eyelids, but my lashes were glued together. I could smell something burning, charred and smoky. Something big. Fleshy.

I swallowed, thick and cottony. Something seeped from cracks in my lips. Was it blood? One last drop left to me? Could I use it to revive myself? To replicate to fill my arteries? I pried open my lips and stretched out a stiff tongue.

“What are you doing? You look ridiculous, like a snake smelling the air with that pointy tongue of yours.”

It was a familiar voice. One I’d heard nearly every morning for over a year.

“Looks like you slept well. A tasty pile of drool on your pillow. Some on your face, too.”

My tongue slid back into my mouth. I squeezed my eyelids tight, then relaxed them. I rolled my eyes back into my head and managed to pry my eyelashes apart. I blinked rapidly. I inhaled and coughed. The sounds resolved into my buzzing alarm clock, the beeping smoke alarm and chattering radio filtering in from the kitchen, and the thumping of my heart pumping blood throughout my body. Another cough.

“What’s burning?” My voice a monotone croak.

Marisa crossed her arms over her ample chest. “The bacon. I threw it out and opened a window, but the smoke alarm won’t stop. I can’t reach it. Can you take the batteries out?”

I grunted.

“Please? The eggs are still fine.”

I groaned and rolled over, muscles coming to life.

“Michael, are you kidding? Get out of bed.” A pause. “How do you turn this damned thing off, anyway?” The sound of plastic switches moving and buttons being depressed ruffled the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck.

“Alright already.” I rolled over again and Marisa handed me the still-buzzing alarm clock. I turned it off and swung my legs out of the covers and over the side of the bed. A banshee wailed inside my head. I jumped into my slippers and rubbed my temples. In the kitchen, I reached up and pried the smoke alarm off the ceiling. I ripped out the battery and tossed it all on the counter. A frying pan with black grease and chips of burnt bacon graced the sink. My stomach turned. I walked to the back door and stepped outside. Breathing deeply, I hacked until the smoke cleared my lungs. I spit in the bushes, rolled my shoulders, and turned to reenter the house.

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Disapproval – #FridayFlash

Alrighty, let’s try this whole blogging 1-2 times per week thing again. I’ll start with a #FridayFlash #flashfiction piece.


The disapproval in her mother’s eye shot an arrow straight through Valerie’s heart. Anxiety leaked from her mother’s pores, a sour perfume that coated Val’s skin in a stinging, strangling mist. Val closed her eyes and counted to ten. She took three deep breaths.

Then three more.

She opened her eyes to the absence of her mother. She still ached from her mother’s judgement. Wasn’t it Val’s choice how to spend her own time? Wasn’t it Val who knew her body’s needs and limitations? She knew her mother’s intentions were generally good, she just wanted to help, but Val was also intimately familiar with her own experience of her mother’s actions and diatribes. Good intentions don’t mean crap if the outcome is harmful. When Val reached out to her mother, the woman always denied sounding irritated or upset.

What–her mother didn’t believe that certain facial expressions and vocal tones indicate corresponding emotions? That’s bogus! Val took another deep breath. She turned on the TV and selected a program that showed nature scenes with a musical accompaniment. She was soon mesmerized by the play of light that only time-lapse photography can capture. Her breathing slowed in time with the music. A contemplative calm suffused the air. Val listened to her heartbeat slow.

Darkness descended. Stars filled the screen. Val closed her eyes and enclosed herself in a flexible, reflective bubble, preparing for her mother’s return.

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