The Flash Form

"Lightning Over Midtown Atlanta" ©2010 by Brendan Lim

Flash! (AAH-aaaaaahhh!)

Last night on Second Life The Quillians had our weekly meeting and read everyone’s submissions for the July challenge. We each selected two favorites.

I came in first, with Ge3x and Mira tying for second. The hilarious thing about it is, of the five entries, all of them were dark. With all of music to choose from, all five of us picked “downer” songs.

I can reveal now that the title of my piece was “Nothing Lasts Forever” and it was inspired by “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. It’s my favorite song of all time.

I didn’t even know most of the songs by the others, so there was no hope of winning the extra prize money. Ah, well. I had guesses. Oddly enough, all my guesses were kind of cheerful. I guess I’m warped that way.

What I’m learning from these monthly challenges is that I kind of like the flash form. Less than 1000 words—our challenges run way less than 1000, usually from 250 to 350—makes you really think about what you want to say, and eliminate needless words and extraneous ideas.

At my Tuesday night writers group (The Forum Writers), we have new writers join us all the time. Some stay, some come and go. But whenever we have a newbie, we make them introduce themselves, tell us what they write, and what they want out of our group. Then we all introduce ourselves in turn, explaining what we write. I usually say some variation of this:

My name is Gary, and I’m currently working on an urban fantasy novel. It’s set in modern Atlanta where magic works, but there are no sexy vampires or werewolves. <insert pause for expected ‘yay’ reaction> I also write science fiction, epic fantasy, dark fiction, and a little horror. I used to do short stories, but my short stuff seems to have developed a pituitary problem.

What can I say? It usually elicits at least a smile. :)

That last part about the pituitary problem, though…I may have to change that. The more I try this extremely short form, the more I like the sense of freedom it gives me. Write 350 words and tell a whole story…then move to the next one. Be done with something instead of incessantly writing it or thinking about it night and day (and night) for months.

Maybe it’s an escapist thing. <shrug> Whatever. I just know that I an enjoying the instant gratification.

As an aside…am I the only person who always adds the “AAH-aaaaaahhh!” in my head every time I hear or see the word “flash” (AAH-aaaaaahhh!)? Surely not. Surely not.

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