Thursday 14 July 2022

Flash Fiction by Lynne Benton

 Actually, "Flash Fiction" is a misnomer.  It was the title of a session I ran last week at this year’s Charney Manor retreat, but it doesn’t have to be fiction at all – in fact, it can be anything you like.

I began by asking the group to call out a number between 1 and 20, and then I picked the number they’d chosen from a list of 20 words that I’d prepared earlier.  (These were all words which I hoped would conjure up a picture or a feeling, words that would hopefully inspire people to write.)

Then I gave the group 15 minutes in which to write whatever they liked, prompted/inspire by that word. 

After 15 minutes I called “Time’s up!”, everyone stopped, and I asked if anyone would like to read out what they had written.  Several people volunteered, and the results were fascinating!  Who could have imagined that so many different scenarios could come from just one word?  Some stories were eerie, some intriguing, while others proved to be nothing less than hilarious (most notably Cath Howe’s piece inspired by the word “glittering”!).  Many people even managed to finish their story with a punchline, which was quite something!

Anyway, I thought today I would reproduce one of the pieces I’d written (yes, I did my 15 minutes worth too, while the group were doing theirs).  Of course it is unedited, but that was really the point.

  The word was Tramp.

Tramp, tramp, tramp went the feet over the cobbles.  Tramp, tramp, tramp.  In perfect time with each other.

She looked out of the window in the tower.  Yes, it was the soldiers again.  What, or rather who, had they come for this time?  She shivered.  Was it her turn?

Tramp, tramp, tramp.  The footsteps stopped.  She held her breath, and dared to look out of the window again.  Yes, they were right outside the castle.

She knew then.  Of course they’d come for her.  There was nobody else.  Her older sister had gone with them yesterday, and nobody had seen her since.

Suddenly she made a decision.  She would not be afraid.  She would go with the soldiers and see what it all meant.  And she would come back – alive – and show them all. 

A moment later her father entered the room.  He was weeping.  She’d never seen him weep before, even when her sister…

“Come along, my daughter,” he said.  “It is your turn.”

She looked at him bravely.  “I am not afraid, Father,  I will survive, do not fear!”

“My darling daughter, I only wish I could protect you,” said the King, sadly.  “But I fear I cannot.  All I can do is send you with the soldiers, but you take my love with you.”

Then he turned, and she followed him down the stone steps and out of the heavy front door into the courtyard, where the soldiers were waiting.

“I’m ready,” she said, and her voice echoed round the courtyard.

The soldier at the head of the procession bowed to her.  “Your Highness,” he said gravely, “please come with us.”  Then he turned, and a moment later they all tramped off back down the hill.

Her heart was in her mouth as they neared the cave where the terrible dragon lay.  She could see his sharp teeth, his glittering green eyes and the fire billowing from his great jaws…

Now, if there’s anyone who fancies having a go at this 15- minute writing exercise, here are the four words I used during the one-and-a-half-hour session.  Or you could come up with others if you prefer.

glittering,   slide,   cavern,   tramp.

All you need is a 15- minute timer, some paper, a pen – and your imagination.  Right, off you go!


Latest book: Billy and the Queen (published Amazon)

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