Matt raised a little girl who has a great big smile and who’s not so little anymore. In his life so far, Matt worked hard, played hard, did some things he’s proud of, did some things he isn’t proud of, but most of all he raised a little girl who has a great big smile and he loved her with everything he has and he always will.
100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? Revise. Revise. Revise. I started writing and learning about fiction writing several months ago. Incorporating things like story arc and character arc and point of view is hard enough in macro fiction (is that a thing?), but ten times harder in micro fiction.
These last few weeks as I read pieces from authors that incorporate fiction story elements and also manage to impart a bit of style, I break them down and try to understand the techniques and what makes them enjoyable to read.
Also, Oscar Wilde wrote an amazing set of really short stories (Poems in Prose in his Complete Works) that gave me a look at what a true master can do in just a few words.
Why do you like flash fiction? I enjoy reading all the stories from other authors. Zooming through ten unique stories in ten minutes reminds me of flicking through movie channels on TV late at night — but with flash fiction, you never miss an ending or important scene.
Been writing long? I started learning about and writing fiction five months ago.
You write anything else? Nah. Business proposals, white papers, functional specs, memos to staff, boring technical emails … so nah.
Any advice for other flash writers? If you’re like me, you struggle with placing style and rhythm over story. One way to combat this is by reading short fiction by master writers and learning a few fundamental story-related techniques.
Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Nah. But I’m having a blast writing flash fiction for Micro Bookends and Flash! Friday.
I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? I can recommend three that I’m reading: The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky, Complete Works of Oscar Wilde and all the short stories written by J.D. Salinger.
Away Sweet Child, Ride Away
R Matt Lashley
“Wild thing, you make my …” The Troggs’ tune, barely perceptible over the whir of tires, crackled and popped from the front left of the new-to-her dark blue ’82 Datsun. The radio received one station: classic rock. The one working speaker, like her life, was shattered.
But today, the lonely, abandoned, broken girl who sold five dollar handjobs on the subway would disappear forever.
She wiped the dollar store makeup from her eyes then floored the gas. Hot desert wind blasted her face, baking her cheeks like sticky, fresh biscuit dough. Then she cranked the volume, tossed her head back and howled with Axl, “Woah, oh, oh, oh, sweet child …”
Given the level of talent competing in this contest, I was certain most of the clever WILD//CHILD phrases were already written or just percolating in the back of someone’s mind waiting to be written. The desire to be original stressed my brain, forcing it to think really, really, really hard. My brain, unaccustomed to such advanced activity, began to weep. To soothe it, I took it on a drive to the post office. (I needed to mail a severely belated thank you card to my aunt Gertrude anyway.) After ten minutes of hard thinking and sensing no relief, my brain began to cry out at forty-two second intervals. Then my tongue, detecting distress in my central nervous system, joined the pitiful festivities with its own random outbursts of nonsensical utterances and got me thrown out of the post office. (Sorry aunt Gertrude.) On the drive home in my dark blue ’82 Datsun with one working speaker, I was half listening to NPR’s Nina Totenberg discuss various legal and social issues … the rest of the story is cliched and hackneyed and you’ve probably already guessed how it ends.
Directions from a Dirty Vagrant
“Cross the tracks, take a right on Wilshire. Old community pool be on the left.” The dirty vagrant held out a hand like a bellhop in a five star hotel. I pressed a single into his filthy paw just hard enough to let him know there wasn’t any more coming. With his free hand, he grabbed my outstretched arm by the elbow and pulled me close, a power move I’d seen politicians and CEOs use then he grinned, displaying scattered blackened nubs, gifts from a life-altering meth addiction. When he released me, I ran toward the tracks, humiliatingly subservient. Behind me he laughed, deliriously dominant.
The picture prompt (the abandoned swimming pool) brought all kinds of images to mind. The bookends, “cross” and “dominant” were more challenging than the picture prompt, but that’s part of the fun.
The word dominant is so strong, it essentially set the theme and tone for the entire piece. My first “dominant” themed story was Star Wars influenced and featured a disillusioned Ewok with a penchant for chains, whips and candle wax. I ended up going with my second story.