I love a good flash fiction contest. Give me a limited word count, words that must be included and a short timeframe to enter, and I am there. Sometimes creating inside the box is more challenging and more fun!
Awhile back, I did a guest post - "How Flash Fiction Unfurls" - over at Debi O'Neille's blog about how one of my flash fiction pieces came about, and I thought I'd do something similar here, this time for a contest entry.
The rules - create a story in 100 words or fewer and include the following words/form of the words: stage, actor, crane, chorus, ghost.
One of the words usually strikes me. Here, it was the word stage. But I wanted to use it in a slightly different context than in the usual theater production sense. I came up with:
(It) occurs in the backstage of his mind, behind the scenes where no one can see.
At this point, I still don't know what "it" is or who "he" is, but I liked the creepy feeling this gave me. Then I played with the word actor. Again, I wanted a more unusual form or use of the word:
Charlie's father was the exactor of the rules, of the reward and of the punishment.
I toyed with the word ghost next:
Charlie's mother is a ghost - here but not here - her body brittle bone and bruised skin, her nerves ragged and plucked.
Hmm, interesting but not quite there yet. I set the story aside for awhile - but not too long since there was only a short window to enter! My imagination tumbled the words around, shook up the images, while I did other stuff. I realized what spoke to me the most had nothing to do with the father, the mother or Charlie. It was the ghost.
I started thinking about the ghost, asking myself questions like: What if the ghost is the exactor of the rules, etc? How terrifying would that be? Ah-ha!
Even though my entry didn't win or place in the contest, I definitely enjoyed the challenge of writing it and was pleased with the result:
Sara skitters through the house. The ghost, an exactor of rules, of reward and of punishment, enjoys toying with her. Her nerves are ragged, plucked. Her body little more than brittle bone covered in bruised skin.
She cranes her neck, peers down the hallway. The front door stands open, the ghost setting the stage for more terror. Still, she scurries toward hope, freedom.
A chorus of thumps chases her, pounding footsteps shudder the walls, her soul. The door slams shut on her hands. Sara screams.
The ghost rips her away, leaving her fingers behind.
What word would you have started with? Do you enjoy writing inside the box or do you like less limits, more freedom? Was this post interesting and/or helpful for your own writing? Would you like to see more posts like this?