Wild Horses and Flash Fiction

Its National Flash Fiction Day today in the United Kingdom, celebrating the short, short form of fiction, the art of telling a story in less than 1,000 words and more often only 150 words.

David Gaffney shares his experience of writing and being published in the form and offers these tips:

  1. Start in the middle
  2. Don’t use too many characters
  3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end
  4. Sweat your title
  5. Make your last line ring like a bell
  6. Write long, then go short

He goes on to explain each tip, click here to reveal his words of wisdom.

And here is my attempt to tell a story in 150 words, word by word.

*

The Muster

*

I ride bareback with just a halter and lead into the midst of the herd, gently coaxing them out from under the trees. My mount quivers beneath me; fear pervades the damp atmosphere and I exhale deeply to expel it.

The sound of a gunshot spooks the stallion and the horses move. Bright sunlight extinguishes shadows as they bolt, branches cracking beneath the drum of hooves.

My father is in position. The herd veers to the right. At the river bank there is a two metre drop into the water and we do not hesitate. I grip hard with my knees and feel muscle ripple beneath me bracing itself for the jump. Something knocks my shoulder and I cry out as we plunge head first into the torrent.

“Wake up son, we’re mustering that herd of wild horses today” my father says as I open my eyes.

35 thoughts on “Wild Horses and Flash Fiction

    • Thank you and sorry for the deception, I would need more than 150 words to make the story continue to create a more satisfying ending perhaps. Or another few days to rework this one, when each word must count.

  1. Brava, Claire! I love reading flash fiction, but I’m no good at it myself. I tend to stick to short stories. Still, I found the tips to be helpful and I love your flash fiction piece! Look forward to seeing more…

  2. I’d never really looked into what flash fiction was; I’m really glad I read this post because I’d really like to give it a go! I currently write a lot of short stories but I think it would be really interesting to write something so succinct, but still very challenging! I definitely want to try this over summer!

  3. A good go of it, liked! I’m glad to see you do a bit of writing.

    I’ve done one or two 150s, as well as several 300s. I find them excellent honing exercises for the noveling.

    I’d love to see you incorporate a weekly fiction piece into your blogging.

  4. Hi Claire,
    I really enjoyed reading this, beautiful language. And I loved the ending – it told me so much about the character. Thanks for commenting on my blog, glad to have found your site.
    Jo

    • Well done Paul, that image of him riding down that bank has stayed in my mind so long, I finally wrote about it, infused with a bit of childhood mustering of a slightly more tame kind, rounding up sheep and mustering wild goats :) Must watch that film again.

  5. Nice. I thought we were into historic fiction in the Bernard Cornwall/Conn Iggulden mode, and then it changed. Thanks for liking my story. I didn’t realise today was Flash Fiction Day.

    • I had to go look the name up to understand the reference, then saw Napoleonic Wars mentioned and realised. Wow, amazing how our imaginations take us to different places just based on a few words.

  6. The tips are very helpful for my blog posts. Thank you. About the flash, I swear I could feel the horse move beneath me and hear the thunder of their hooves. Still coughing on the trail dust:) Great job.

  7. Amazing, I’ve heard of flash flood, flash dance and flash in the pan…but flash fiction is new to me! I l love reading, can put my comments ( …sometimes funny) on paper but just sit down an write a story ? Perhaps I did it in school many years ago b/c it was required, but never just for fun. I have a few days vacation planned on a Frisian island of the coast of The Netherlands next week….. Maybe I will sit and try my best to put 1000 words on paper and report back! Deal?

    • Definitely. That would be fantastic, this was my first attempt to write flash fiction from the beginning, I have taken other stories and tried to edit them down to 150 and that works too, its great practice for editing. I love words so wanted to write short without compromising on being able to use descriptive words. I’m looking forward to doing more and to seeing what you come up with, don’t be afraid to make it short short!

  8. Nice job on the short-story. I’m so darn wordy that this might be a bit tough for me. I write like I talk… I have a habit of just going on and on :) My husband always tells me to change my habit :)
    Ashley

    • That’s how you get the first draft down, just say it how you want to say it, then you go back and start chopping, slicing, replacing, it will still sound like you, but a more slick version :) I am sure your writing has changed over the course of writing the blog, most people only notice it when they go back and start reading their first posts. Practice can’t help but improve.

  9. I’m a lousy writer, so I always appreciate it when others do it well! One of my favorites is the probably apocryphal six-word short story attributed to Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

    Thanks for visiting my blog and introducing me to yours!

  10. Pingback: The Waiter (Vlieland, Flash Fiction) « ipsofactodotme

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