F is for Flash Fiction

california

Number 6 in The A to Z of the Writer’s Affliction, part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

As I’ve already mentioned, my first novel, French Sally, was long. 301,587 words, to be exact. So when Matt at the TheBookBlogger2014 created a Flash Fiction Foray event (now suspended, I’m afraid), setting the limit at 100 words, I thought, now there’s a challenge! The prompt was the song California Dreaming, to be used in any way you want.

‘Here it is.’

‘Where?’

‘There. In front of you.’

‘That?’ Sharon stared at the shoddy scrap of plastic, barely bigger than her IKEA futon, that Jimmy was expecting her to admire. ‘You’re joking.’

‘What?’ He looked offended. ‘Why?’

‘Well, it’s not what you described last night.’ She’d had a bit too much, sure, but she clearly remembered, between the last drink and the sex (lousy, but hey, for a first time together…), the vision of luxury he’d conjured.

‘No, then I was joking. You didn’t get it?’ He held out a hand. ‘Cheer up, babe. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’


But why stop at 100? Since the challenge of brevity is such fun, I think I’ll reduce it to 80.

‘Here.’

‘Where?’

‘There.’

Sharon stared at the shoddy scrap of plastic, barely bigger than her futon, that Jimmy was expecting her to admire. ‘You’re joking.’

‘What? Why?’

‘Well, it’s not what you described last night.’ She’d had a bit too much, sure, but she clearly remembered, between the last drink and the sex, the vision of luxury he’d conjured.

‘No, then I was joking. You didn’t get it?’ He held out a hand. ‘Cheer up. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’


Ah, I’m enjoying this. Let’s continue:

Sharon stared at the scrap of plastic that Jimmy was expecting her to admire. ‘You’re joking.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s not what you described.’ She’d had a bit too much, sure, but she clearly remembered the vision of luxury he’d conjured.

‘No, then I was joking. You didn’t get it?’ He held out a hand. ‘Cheer up. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’


 A step further? Why not?

‘You’re joking.’

‘Why?’

‘It’s not what you described.’ She’d drunk too much, but there’d been a vision of luxury.

‘No, then I was joking. You didn’t get it?’ He held out a hand. ‘Cheer up. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’


And now that we’re in the swing of it…

‘You’re joking.’ She’d drunk too much, but there’d been a vision of luxury.

‘Cheer up. Welcome aboard the California Dreaming.’


One final push…

Drunk.


I think French Sally could benefit from this treatment. I’ve started already, in fact – brought it down to 180,000. But I feel a lot more could be done. Would anyone like to help? Somewhere in the region of 25 words would be fine.

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12 Comments

  1. I’ve edited others’ work many times, but when it comes to my own, I find it ultra-tedious (like it’s this story I’ve heard a million times and if I change and rearrange, I might really *&^% up the meaning, then I’ll have to go back and edit other stuff to make sure it’s accurate, which leads to more editing, which . . . and the cycle continues, forever.) Also, that old, old (at least as old as Heraclitus) saying that you never step in the same spot of the stream twice. Mark Twain, if I remember correctly, said to stop writing in mid-sentence and return to it; I find that doesn’t work too well for me, as I’m likely to be in a very different frame of mind and not know where I was going with the original sentence. Isn’t that odd—regarding the loving/hating of editing? Maybe that’s a clear signal my writing is not up to snuff when that happens? In any case, this was fun seeing your mental wheels spinning on a flash fiction. There are definite merits to each re-write, and I like how you’ve used California Dreaming in non-song form (presumably a cruise ship?).

    • Ha, ha, yes, I’ve tried the mid-sentence thing too and like you I think ‘ What on earth was that supposed to be about?’ But if I cross it out, the right sentence comes pretty quickly, so maybe it does work… Regarding the love/hate, I don’t think it’s a sign that it’s not up to snuff – the first drafts never are. Maybe just a matter of letting enough time pass between revisions. I find that working on different stories helps. Right now I’ve got two, which I do on alternate days. First time I’ve done that, but so far it’s working – I’m always impatient to get back to them.

      • Sounds like a good idea, Curtis. I think another ‘problem’ of mine is maybe too many irons in the fire. I’m not writing novelettes or longer, and usually not really even long-form fiction, so I’ve got so much swimming ’round in my mind I fear (and actually have) forgotten completely what stories are about—also due to my tendency to schlep the titles around; sometimes they’re very different from draft to draft. One day, I’ll find a streamlined way of doing things. For now, it’s a feeling-it-out process to see what works best. Anyway, best wishes to you on your dual stories!

        • Yes, too many ideas – my Z post (still to be written) is about that, Another affliction – wherever you are, ideas pop into your head. Damn nuisance! Hope you find that streamlined way of dealing with them.

    • Thank you, Erica. I just looked at your site – love that concept of the weather poems. Not just the concept – what makes it good is the carrying out, the poems themselves.

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