I love playing around with micro fiction. I’ve been dabbling (and drabbling) in it for years. I enjoy the challenge of telling a story, portraying an emotion, or revealing the briefest snapshot in time, within the tight parameters micro stories demand.
To this end, I was rapt when Writers Victoria announced they’d be running their 30-word Twitter Flash Fiction challenge again this April. The brief is simple: 30 words. 30 prompts. 30 days. Write a micro tale in exactly thirty words, and Tweet it using the hashtag #WVFlashFic20, with a winner chosen every day from the hundreds of entrants.
I’d had a lot of fun with Writers Victoria’s challenge the previous year, even chalking up a win with the prompt word ‘Blunder’
April 16, 2019: BLUNDER
“Behold, the Seven Blunders of the World!”
The students stared at the swirling holographic images: oceans of plastic, extinct animals, parched earth, bee decolonisation, deforestation, pandemic disease, oil spills.
“Class dismissed.” — @BecksMuse
2020’s theme for the daily prompt words was ‘focus’. No wins for me this year, but I did jag three honourable mentions.
If you like short, sharp, quick reads, you’ll find my responses to the Writers Victoria daily 30-word challenges below.
#EYEBALL (Honourable Mention)
“Wanna play marbles?” The new kid said, shaking out his sack.
“Sure,” Lachlan replied, then gasped and recoiled. Amid the cluster of small round glass balls, an eyeball slyly winked.
“Concentrate all your thoughts into a single stream of focus. Here, like this.” The Energy Master closed his eyes and whispered the incantation. The skyscraper collapsed. “Your turn,” he commanded.
“Did you hear about the fire at the campground?” Dad asked.
“No!” I replied, aghast. “What happened?”
“It was really intense. Get it “in-tents”
I groaned. “Not another Dad joke!”
#BLUR (Honourable Mention)
Edrick focused on the parchment, but his words skewed through a blur of tears. His beloved Gilda, guilty of witchcraft. He picked up his quill and signed her death warrant.
‘Hocus-Pocus’ they called themselves. Glam metal, long hair, tight pants and makeup. But when they played, dark magic happened. Their voodoo beat held the crowd in sway—hypnotised, compliant…powerless.
The Three Blind Mice resolved no mouse would ever again suffer tail amputation by the farmer’s wife. They threw her carving knife in the river, then tossed her in too.
I took the pill, my mind grew hazy
I dirty danced with Patrick Swayze
I floated down a purple stream
A spider served me scones with cream…
Peek in mirror, a subtle trace
Where eyes once blue—is that a brownish hue
That stares back at my purloined face?
Now, is that me, or is that you?
Ever had a crisp sandwich? It’s real easy. Two slices o’ bread, butter, handful o’ crisps—plain work best. Smoosh it all together, and crunch! Trust me, it’s the dog’s bollocks.
Little germ in petrie dish,
You seethe and breed. My ardent wish?
My microscope’s zoomtastic lens
Finds a cure to thereby cleanse
Our world of you, and all your friends.
You sold snake oil, never disguising what it was. Trapped in my own myopia, I bought it—a recurring subscription. My heart drank deeply; wondered why it never stopped aching.
Head south, you’ll find Old Goat Road converge with Highway One. Stand at them crossroads on a full moon and you’ll be changed. Not transformed, mind. Transported. You’ve been warned.
A single sharp note from the piano turns Chelsea’s head. She peers down the shadow-filled hall. The piano. Draped in dust and cobwebs—unplayed for some fifty years. Until now.
“Call me Bullseye. Ain’t nobody seen a better shot round these parts.”
“I’ll stick with Bullshit,” his wife retorted. “Lobbing an empty tinny into the bin’s hardly a bankable skill.”
“’Are you sure you want to exist? Click Yes or No.’ What the hell kind of question is that? Evil computer!”
“Here, put on my glasses.”
“Oh, ‘exit’. Phew!”
Hayley keeps her pincushion dolls in her locker. Drawn-on eyes, realistic tufts of hair. Shuddersome.
My peripheral catches her newest addition.
“This one’s named after you, Molly.” Hayley smiles sweetly.
I have the vague notion something isn’t right with Percy. He has become pale and withdrawn since returning from 2020. I may have to adjust the time machine.
It’s my weekend. Too long between. I introduce her to Star Wars.
“Pew pew! I’m Princess Leia!” Gemma’s finger gun shoots a laser beam. It cuts right through my heart.
Memories loop. Their pain-cycles torment the washing machine of my mind, scrubbing raw the hazescape hours before dawn’s pale. I drift on a tide of grief—no anchor, no compass.
#SPOTLIGHT (Honourable Mention)
My only aspiration, despite my opaque lies
Is the chance to prove my worth to you—
Shine brightly in your eyes.
You’re a spotlight in my darkness
—luminance my prize
Cobra, in your basket round,
Hear my tale, it’s quite profound.
This snake charmer has lost her way
In exploiting your hypnotic sway
Abused your rights—
You thought me a Russian doll, peeling away my layers until you reached my centre—face crumpling in wounded surprise to discover my wooden heart didn’t match my vibrant exterior.
‘Marry him, and you’re no son of mine.’ I read the sincerity in my father’s words. I tore up his letter, along with his wedding invitation, and binned them both.
“There y’are,” Melinda patted the car’s bonnet. “Good as new.” As her husband backed out the driveway, she slipped the rivet into her pocket with a murderous grin. Cheating bastard.
My name’s Clarity. It was supposed to be Katie, but Dad said when I was born the clouds fogging his mind parted for the first time since my brother died.
Screwed up again, loser. I punch the mirror, my fist a gavel of self-loathing. The glass shatters and fractures. There, that’s the real me. That distorted face in the shards.
Home is a sliver of light hidden among ancient constellations that glitter like raindrops on a spiderweb. I gather my thoughts. Earth is safe…but I must return to fight.
You say I am hooked
Smoke, snort, hit—
Alienated all with my dysfunction
You say my obsession can be beaten
That I’m just fixated,
We assemble, the others silently begging to be picked. Pathetic, this tradition. Your eyes slide over me again. I’m always in your line of sight, forever out of focus. Good.
I’ve also recently enjoyed facilitating April’s Confinement Assignment, an new and ongoing initiative for members of Peninsula Writers’ Club, devised to keep inspiration and motivation high during self-isolation. Confinement Assignment delivers a daily writing prompt word and challenges members to produce a micro tale of exactly 50 words that incorporates the prompt word. Member response has been rewardingly enthusiastic, and it’s been a pleasure to read everyone’s varied interpretations of the prompt word, and the different ways they’ve chosen to use their 50 words.
Apart from the fun factor, there are many benefits to be gleaned from writing micro fiction:
- Writing to a prompt allows you to explore, experiment, and push boundaries with your creativity.
- Writing to an exact (and limited) word count hones your editorial skills. You’ll become more adept at cutting out superfluous words, while choosing others carefully. When you only have a specific number of words to tell your tale, every word matters.
- To rise to a challenge that doesn’t come with the stress of the other daily challenges we’re all currently experiencing in this time of COVID-19.
- To share your work, and enjoy the work of others.
- To inspire or motivate productivity and imagination – you never know where your words will take you! Many a story or novel has been inspired by a writing prompt!
There you have it. Micro Fiction! It’s a lot of fun. Give it a go 😊
Happy writing, happy reading, and happy days
PS You can find me on Twitter https://twitter.com/BecksMuse