The Writer With The Quickest Draw

How many Flashes are needed to change a light-bulb?…
One. It’s an easy task if you think about it… [anti-joke chicken]

Flash-fiction, sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction and short short story. All of these terms surmise something whose existence I was completely unaware of a few weeks ago.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

reportedly written by Ernest Hemingway

Supposedly, on a dare, Hemingway said he could create a short-story comprising only six words. A challenge self created, challenge accepted, challenge accomplished kind of situation. Among his peers he accomplished this incredible task of creating a story with a beginning, a middle and an ending. José Saramago couldn’t do that with thousands of words in his latest book and he’s a Nobel laureate. He wrote the beginning and some of the middle, but was unable create a proper ending. Dead people are so lazy sometimes.

Oscar Wilde: “The Importance of being Ernest”

The great thing about these little pieces of fiction is that they tell only the bare essential, they leave everything to your imagination:

 It was breezy summer afternoon in that little plane village by the murky river. The petite blue jays were chirping, the green jumpy frogs were croaking, the furry beavers were… beavering. I sat there, my behind cushioned by yellowed grass – either by the full spectrum of the sun rays or by some squirt of some prairie animals piss – underneath a centenary 10 feet tall oak tree. As I stood there, contemplating the beautiful landscape I recalled the delightful banquet of the previous night: salacious roasted suckling pig tempered with spices from India and Africa and America, with a side of roasted crispy potatoes, golden, and a side of red chilli beans. As I sat there, I farted.

by Luís Azevedo

What is there left to imagine? If you’re thinking about the smell, the next paragraph would serve to describe it; detailed metaphors and analogies would be involved.

In flash-fiction all the work is left for the reader. Which story is Hemingway telling?

  • Abortion;
  • A woman gave birth to a dead baby;
  • The baby died prematurely;
  • Someone bought pink shoes but the baby turned out to be a boy;
  • Someone bought shoes that were the wrong size for a baby;
  • The baby was born without feet, etc. (my first guess; morbid guess)

You can also be terribly amused by the simplification of stories. The bigger their importance/holiness of the theme:

Megan’s baby: John’s surname, Jim’s eyes.

By Simon Armitage

“Apple?” “No.” “Taste!” “Adam?” “Oh, God”.

By David Lodge

The brevity of a work also lends itself another important quality: it’s brief. I bet there would be a lot more interested students in literature if they were to learn 6 worded works instead of 6 hundreds pages ones.

Students would appreciate.

I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me:

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About Azevedo

Singular person (ex-child), slightly knowledgeable about movies, books and humour, who lacks the ability to finish what he...

Posted on May 9, 2012, in BOOKS, WRITING and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Oh Flash is the way buddy! Ask Tolstoy. Or Dostoyevsky. Or Capote, Or Hemmingway. Or Raymond Carver. Or ME!

    Short fiction is truly an Art.

    Preaching to the choir!!!

  2. ontheplumtree

    I really like your blog. What a great idea! Will you pose this as an exercise on Plum Tree? Maybe we can publish the results on our web-site???

    • Sure! You just tell what I have to do and I’ll be happy to do it! 🙂

      • ontheplumtree

        Pose the challenge set by Hemingway and give his example with the great photo, and ask people to participate…. I can’t wait. What a great challenge for any writer’s page.

  3. Followed you over from the Plum Tree Group. I like the short, short, short stories. I like Hemingway, too. Nice to meetcha. 🙂


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