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Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction

Have you tried flash fiction yet?

Flash fiction is the art of saying as much as possible with as few words as possible. It’s like poetry, but less...poetic.

If you’re like me and focusing on Your Novel [intentional capitalisation], you might think short stories are a waste of time.

I thought short stories were a waste of writing time because…I don’t read them. I read novels. Preferably novels in a series with characters that grow and develop over a number of books.

Who wants to fall in love with a character and then BANG they’re gone?

Seems silly.

However, short stories can be plenty darling.

As a reader, there is a heady intensity to a good short story. They’re like a sudden burst of intense flavor or the memory of something good.

If you invest five minutes on a flash fiction piece, you’ll be rewarded with a perfumed punch to the soul.

Short stories writers don’t have time to faff about. They get to the goods and they get there hard and fast and dirty. These emotional manipulators weigh every single word for maximum intensity.

There is no slow burn. Exposition is for other people. It’s all raw, immediate and incredibly subtle.

It is difficult.

But it is why writing short stories is a great way to improve your writing.

Imagine distilling four paragraphs into three words?

Imagine setting a scene in a single line.

Imagine describing a character with a seemingly unrelated line of dialogue.

This is what short story writers do. They condense complicated things into the barest fragment of themselves and let them loose on the world, bereft of frills or packaging.

If you haven’t tried Flash Fiction yet, do yourself a favor and try it.

A good place to start is the Australian Writer’s Centre Flash Fiction competition. Which is free to enter and has some truly mind-boggling prompts.


You could go to the above link and read the winners, which are always a freaking treat.

Or you could also read my Long-listed entry for the September Furious Fiction

Actually do both. But read mine first because if you read theirs and then mine...mine will seem less cool.

Your story must include EITHER an attic OR a basement.

Your story must include some kind of insect.

Your story must include the words EARTH, WIND, FIRE and WATER.


I found her online.

She didn’t sound like a Colgate personality you’d see on the Morning Show.

She sounded real.

‘Can you stack the dishwasher, please?’ she asked her daughter, while she booked my appointment over the phone.

I could hear Dr Who playing on the TV in the background.

There was, she told me, no need to meet physically.

‘After you get home,’ she instructed. ‘Connect MindIncisor and my consciousness will link with yours.’

It happened exactly as she said: I lay on my couch, hit “connect” and then I was standing inside my own head.

Marjory arrived beside me and surveyed the devastation.

You’ve heard about Mind Palaces, right?

I have a Mind Attic.

It was a cluster fu…dge.

Acres upon acres of disorganised detritus: memories stacked upon facts, mixed with stuff I needed for work, like what to do when that Terminal Error appeared.

Deferred tasks: cleaning the gutters, relationships, bills, leaned preciously against Mum’s Guide to Lighting Fires.

Hide! My mortification glands demanded. Don’t let her see this!

Marjory said: ‘I’m glad you called me.’

She tapped the nearest item with her boot: a car-sized radio. ‘Let’s start here.’

Obediently, I heaved on the radio’s huge power leaver. Immediately, Thunderstruck blew through my Mind Attic like a furious wind, flinging me backwards into a biology mnemonic.

Somehow, Marjory managed to shove the volume knob.

Silence crashed.

According to my brain, radios aren’t full of wires, they’re full of musical paraphernalia.

We hoisted ourselves inside the enormous appliance and started excavating.

Soon, the ground was littered with songs, artists, and inaccurately remembered lyrics.

‘Now we organise!’ Marjory’s eye gleamed, but I was still unnerved by our AC/DC encounter.

Merle Haggard and Pink were easy.

The rest…less so.

Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus had become one interchangeable conglomerate. Justine Bieber had somehow become associated with my post-dreadlock hairstyle and resisted all untangling attempts.

Neil Diamond's songs swarmed like ants at a picnic.

Using hands, feet, and occasionally teeth, we corralled the shambles neatly into a Juke Box.

When it was full, Marjory said, ‘That’s enough for today.’

I opened my eyes: back on my couch.

Only ten minutes had passed.

During my next session, we peeked inside the library.

‘Well,’ Marjory said. ‘If it ain’t broke.’

Lines of perfectly arranged books stood on skyscraper-sized shelves.

Before I could get too smug, she handed me a bucket and pointed. The indicated substance was black and tar-like.

And it was everywhere!

For the next million years…probably, I chipped, gouged, and swore at the stuff.

It tasted of dry-mouths and thudding hearts. Of paralysing fear.

When the bucket was finally full, Marjory told me to dig a hole; then she unceremoniously dumped the contents into said depression, tossed in some seeds, covered it with earth and watered it.

‘What type of seeds?’ I asked.

She retrieved the packaging and squinted.

‘Wisdom.’ She frowned and tilted the packet. ‘Wisteria.’

Photo by Max Murauer on Unsplash

© 2023, Joss Cannon