What’s in a Word? Announcing a Collection of Flash Fiction

We’re big on “no spoliers!” in the Potts household. At least as far as our entertainment goes. Holidays and birthdays are a different story. We can keep an ending or a surprise twist to ourselves, but it is all my kids (and sometimes, their dad) to do not to share hints about the presents they are giving well before the day of the event.

I’ve gotten into a habit of not taking them shopping until a week before a big day, if only to limit the time for temptation. They will no doubt continue this habit well into adulthood, reinforcing the stereotype of a guy waiting until the night (or hour before) to buy gifts. For that, I would like to apologize to their future spouses, but believe me when I say, as annoying as this behavior is, it is with the best of intention. It’s difficult to wait to share something you are proud of or is exciting news. This is even more true when the thing to share it is both of those things.

This is my long-winded way of saying, I’ve been keeping something from you.

The Big Reveal!

I was invited to add a number of stories to a collection of short fiction, and when I say short, I mean short. The maximum length of an allowed story in one section was 600 words. In another section, the collection’s editor, Sarah Brentyn, dubbed micro-bursts, the goal was to write a story in as little as 10. I’d thought, writing a full-length novel was tough… I am happy to say that I believe I rose to the challenge.

The Shadows We Breathe, Vol 1 is on sale as of August 9th, 2021, and I’m honored to be one of the eight authors featured in it.

The Shadows We Breathe - Sarah Brentyn

“In this anthology, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires. Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.”

Examples of Micro-Bursts

Right now, you may be asking: how does one write a story in only ten words? In some ways, it is like writing poetry. You have to be very specific about your word choice. What you say matters, but what you don’t say is just as, if not more, important. In order for a string of ten words to tell a story, they have to give a reader enough context for to form a starting point, while also giving the reader’s mind enough room to fill in the blanks all by itself.

The most famous example of this sort of short fiction is Hemingway’s six word story: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” Two sentences tell you much. They prompt the mind to come up with all the reasons someone might be selling a pair of unused baby shoes.

Sure, the baby in this story could easily have been like mine—due mid-October, but not born until November, which made dressing him in Halloween-themed attire like a candy-corn shaped onesie somewhat silly. (I still did it, mind you, it was perfectly good clothing—I just didn’t dress him that way when we were out in public).

This means the story might boil down to nothing more than a tale detailing the reason behind a yard sale offering, but as it was created by Hemingway, the safer bet is that the background story is much more tragic. That said, like other forms of art, it comes down to a matter of personal interpretation.

This form of writing also happens to be, in my case, a fun way to procrastinate fuel my writing skills when I am stuck at a particularly tangled plot point in a draft novel—it’s like the literary equivalent of Trail Mix. Whenever I feel the need to escape from my manuscript (why oh why do these things refuse to write themselves) recharge, I go on social media and look up hashtags like #FP and #FridayPhrases to find a weekly prompt. Feel free to check out some examples of my work.

I like these prompts because they give me the full length of a media post to tell my story. However, there are plenty of other hashtags and users that start with ‘6Word’ or ‘sixword’ for you to choose from if you want to do the same and are looking for even more challenge.

I guess my little stories on Twitter were enough to get me noticed by other flash fiction fans, like Sarah. When I found out that this collection was in the works, I jumped at the offer. I was then thrilled to make the cut. This was especially true when I learned who else’s stories would be included within the pages.

If you are like me—pressed for time—but still enjoy indulging in the occasional bite-sized reading snack, I encourage you to check this, and Sarah’s other collections out.

21 thoughts on “What’s in a Word? Announcing a Collection of Flash Fiction

    1. I thought so! There are actually eight of us total, but still! The only problem is that I really want to expand at least one of my pieces into a fuller story and it is all I can do to stay focused on my existing novel in progress. Cursed shiny object syndrome.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is also true. I am also telling myself I won’t have to outline as much because it will be more fully fleshed out in my head. Obviously, I am deluded and enjoy lying to myself, but I like to pretend this time it will be different.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so too! Sarah put an incredible amount of effort into putting this collection together. The phrase herding cats comes to mind. I have a difficult enough time working with just me. I can’t imagine what it was like to work with eight of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ha! “enough to get me noticed by other flash fiction fans…” Yes, I noticed you… 👀

    Thanks for spreading the word for the anthology, Allie. It was a wonderful experience, in all. I mean, hell no with unforeseen tech issues and other tech stuff and formatting but other than that. 😉 It’s a beautiful book with beautifully-written stories. Thank you, again, for contributing your words. (I’m not sure which story you’re referring to but I think any of them could be expanded. Sorry, WIP.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is where I see novels going. Cecelia Ahern’s Roar is her book of flash fictions, each one about woman. Each one, linked by a theme. Like a table of dough based produce, similar in size, and ingredients, … but as far ranging as an Artizan loaf and a Pan au chocolat. I shall be reading this anthology with anticipatio, and a view to putting my ducks (collection) in a row.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny you made that comparison as I also thought the result was like a box of macaroons where the general form was highly controlled, but each had its own distinct flavor. The second volume should go live before the year is out.


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