Flash Fiction Festival Three, the anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction and containing stories from 82 of the participants and presenters who came to the 2019 Festival in Bristol has been arriving all over the world. Thanks to all writers who have posted pictures of their copies in different locations on Twitter and Facebook. We think we have collected up most of them so far. But if we have missed you, or you want to add yours, please let us know. Booking for this year’s festival is open and about half the places are now sold. The programme includes workshops from well known flash fiction teachers and writers from the UK, Ireland, the USA, Italy, Germany and Cyprus. The programme and the workshop details will be finalised soon. We hope you can come. All participants coming in 2020 have the opportunity to be published in our fourth festival anthology.
Thank you to Ad Hoc Fiction for donating the costs of compiling, designing and printing our third festival anthology, which is available to buy now from the Ad Hoc Fiction online bookshop.
Did you know we are using the colours of the rainbow for our festival anthologies? Red, orange and now yellow. You’ll be able to build up a row of the whole rainbow spectrum on your bookshelves. And after the violet edition has been published, well we don’t know yet. A lot can happen in four years and who knows what the festival will have evolved into by then.
This year, as usual, we gave Flash Fiction Festival participants and presenters the opportunity to submit up to three micro fictions for the third festival anthology and our editing team, Jude Higgins, Santino Prinzi and Diane Simmons had the exciting task of selecting the stories. The 2019 Festival Anthology contains 82 brilliantly varied micros of 250 words or under on all subjects and themes by authors from all parts of the UK, Ireland, the USA, New Zealand, Austria Cyprus and Switzerland and many were sparked off by festival workshops. All contributors will get their free copy shortly. Read in Full
Lots of pictures here to give the atmosphere of the 2019 Festival! And do look at the ‘Flash Cab’ videos made by the Smokelong Quarterly Crew at the Flash Fiction Festival. They are very funny and you get to hear some flash
Our USA contingent includes the amazing writers and teachers: Kathy Fish; Nancy Stohlman; Laurie Stone; Peter Wortsman and Beth Gilstrap Expect workshops and panels on travel writing, politics and social commentary, the flash novel,festival warm-ups, lyrical writing and more. Full details soon.
Charmaine Wilkerson from Italy will chair a panel on Flash And Social Commentary.
Christopher Allen from Germany will offer an editing workshop, will take part in the panel and, of course, you will find him facilitating the karaoke.
From Cyprus, Nora Nadjarian is returning to run her early morning and extremely popular session using images for writing prompts.
Roberta Beary and Nuala 0’Connor from Ireland . Roberta is teaching a workshop on the art of the Haibun and Nuala will be teaching Historical Fiction again, this time a longer session in a pre-festival workshop on the Friday afternoon (booking for this open soon).
Kathy Fish will also be running an additional pre-festival three hour workshop on the Friday afternoon.
Full details about all these workshops and more not yet confirmed will be on the workshop page soon.
Writer, tutor, editor and Festival Curator, Meg Pokrass, is well known for her highly inventive prompts which she generously shares on Facebook and also offers in her popular online workshops. Some of the unusual prompt images she’s posted on her site are reproduced here. As well as co-running a workshop on the novella-in-flash at the Festival with Jude Higgins and participating in a panel chaired by Michael Loveday on the novella-in-flash with Bath Flash Fiction novella winners, Charmaine Wilkerson, Ellie Walsh and Johanna Robinson, Meg is running a prompt workshop on the Sunday. And if you haven’t read Meg’s work, Alligators at Night, her latest book of flash fictions, is available in a paperback from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and in ebook format on Kindle or Nook. And do read Meg’s ten writing tips at the end of the post, to think more about your flash. There’s some great prompts included within this list.
- Jude: You are well known for your highly inventive prompts. Just the other day on your Twitter feed you suggested this as writing prompt of the day “write about a seemingly boring, predictable life-moment, but use the phrase “cold hands” at least once and use the word “backwards” three times in your first draft.” Clearly, you have a reason for the repetition idea. Can you tell us more?
Meg: By repeating a phrase when writing a first draft, a writer will often find a rhythm, or heartbeat. And I find that using a repeated phrase helps the writer dig for interesting material right out of the gate. All of this allows for an exciting sense of creative freedom. I like to think of repetition like this as an engine for the way to find the story that wants to be told.However, with this particular prompt, the one you mention here, I threw in the idea of repetition with an off-kilter word, “backwards”, as a way to add some immediate sense of conflict. If you’re using the word “backwards” 3 times, something about the situation is probably not as simple as it seems.
- Jude: Do you always use prompts to spark your own writing?
Most of us, consciously or not, use prompts or “sparks” to get ourselves going. A prompt can be something as simple as an overheard snippet of conversation, a shopping list, a worry…
- Jude: Which, in your opinion, is the most successful story you have written from a prompt?
Meg: ‘I Married This’, soon to be reprinted by Craft Magazine, is an example of a story written to a prompt. I wrote my entire first collection, Damn Sure Right, to various prompts I made up and assigned myself.
- Jude: I love the lists of usually about ten random words you sometimes give on FaceBook to incorporate into a story. I have been writing to such lists for the last few weeks now with some success. Any thoughts on why this prompt can result in a good story?
Meg: That’s great Jude! So glad you’re experimenting with that. Using random words truly does something mysterious to the creative brain. It stretches the writer’s openness to what might happen while writing the first draft. By forcing oneself to make sense of cut-ups or completely random words (it hardly matters which ones) we find ourselves in places we didn’t previously have access to. All of a sudden, wild new possibilities open up.
- Jude: You run frequent and popular online courses which include all sorts of prompts. Can you tell us a bit more about them and what happens? We know that writers have been very successful in placing stories that have started in the groups.
Meg: Recent success stories first! Thank you Jude. 3 student stories from my online workshop from 2018 were selected for Best Small Fictions! And 85 (or more) publications which resulted from stories which started in my classes in magazines like Smokelong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, Wigleaf, Cincinatti Review, Atticus Review. These are the best flash magazines in the world. I’m so proud of my students, and of what has been happening. With my online courses there is no pressure with signing up. I have an open-door policy, which is what I do think sets mine apart. If a student wants to take one of my courses, I will make room for them even if I have to create a few different groups in order to accommodate everyone. I give myself enough time to do this. My classes are supportive, affordable and I always encourage risk taking. Most of my students are return participants. I couldn’t be happier about how things have been going.
- Jude: Can you give us a preview of your hour long prompt workshop at the festival?
Meg: It will be work generative and fun. I’m going to bring in my strangest and most popular prompts. I’ll be giving out a new prompt every 10 minutes.
Jude: And we’d love a prompt to get people in the mood for when they come to the Flash Fiction Festival
Meg: I’ll ask the participants to launch into a quickly written story beginning with an obscure character observation such as how a character greets their cat.
To give potential workshop students a bit more to think about, here are some of my favourite flash writing tips:
1.Unusual Details: Make characters out of obscure traits, for example, how do they greet their cat? What is their favourite film… and why?
2.Create Conflict: Bother your characters, provide a good deal of trouble. Don’t let them get there too easily. Make sure something in their POV shifts by the end of the story.
3.Childhood Nickname: Make up a nickname that your main character had as a child. Don’t tell the reader what it is, but keep it in mind while writing your story. This may sound strange, but our childhood embarrassments often shadow adulthood.
4.Sexy Elf Logic: If there’s an elf in your story, go ahead and make them sexy, but give him some issues. I mean, if you are a sexy elf, you’re going to come with some psychological baggage. No matter how fantastical a character is, make them real.
5.Woe Is Me: Readers don’t like characters who sit around feeling hurt by the world and wallowing in it. Instead, they care about characters who, despite all of the difficulty life has thrown them, are finding ways to thrive.
6.Crisis/Advantage: When something very hard has happened in your life, use it. Let something similar happen to your character. Disguise it. Dismantle it. Here we can finally make use of the stuff that hurts. This will help your fiction.
7.Sex in Flash: A character’s unique relationship to sex is far more interesting than writing about lusty characters having sex all over the place. If there is sex in a story, don’t hit us over the head with it.
8.Trust the Reader: The quickest way to lose a reader’s trust is to tell them what you mean. After you’re done writing your story, go through and get rid of any places where you are trying to explain what is happening in the story. Instead, let the reader see what’s happening by your very specific use of unusual detail and a banquet full of sensory information. Anton Chekhov said it this way: “Don’t tell me that the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
9.Follow the Love: Follow the trail of messy love wherever it takes your characters, even if the love is invisible to the eye, and especially if it makes no sense.
10.Cultivate a Sense of the Ridiculous: Everything that really matters to your character is also somewhat ridiculous when looked at from a different perspective. Don’t take yourself (or your characters) too seriously when writing fiction. Make the stakes high, but let a ray of ironic humour shine through.
Several of the FlashBack editors will discuss various aspects of writing and publishing historical flash, and provide a few writing exercises so that participants can leave with ideas or even perhaps a rough draft of a historical flash fiction. There will be time for discussion during the session, so by all means, bring any questions you might have!
Read in Full
We’ve already been given some great raffle prizes, which are listed on our sponsors’ page, which you link to from the banners on our home page, and we now have some more prizes described below. We’re donating to Air Ambulances South West this year, a charity supported by Hall and Woodhouse, who haves sponsored a full price place at this year’s festival and have donated a £40 voucher for an evening meal in one of their restaurants
It’s Ad Hoc Fiction’s fourth birthday this week and as well as donating their services to compile the Festival Anthology Three after this year’s festival they are also donating a birthday bottle of ‘Ad Hoc Pinot Noir’ for the raffle. We think writers who have not had their 150 word micros accepted for the ebook some weeks, may find the label of this bottle fitting.
Thank you also to Nancy Stohlman, Damhnait Monaghan, Santino Prinzi, Jude Higgins, Tara Laskowski, Nod Ghosh and Michelle Elvy who are donating books.
And a further thank you to Nod Ghosh who is also donating some of the lovely glass pendants she makes. Some examples of them are pictured here.
We’re completely over the moon that the Flash Fiction Festival 2018 is short listed in the new category, ‘Literary Festivals’, in this year’s Saboteur Awards! Thank you very much to everyone who nominated us. It is such a great honour. We’d also be honoured if you would vote for us in the second round, adding what you liked about the weekend festival to give us a good chance of winning. That would be so amazing! A real boost for flash fiction around the world.
The Saboteur Awards announcements are taking place in Birmingham on Saturday evening, May 18th and representatives from all short listed events are asked to attend. Our director, Jude Higgins is on a flash fiction writing retreat with Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman in Italy in May, where, on the day, we will be tuning in on social media to see what’s happening. We’re very pleased that Festival Hospitality Co-ordinator, Diane Simmons, pictured here sorting out some food at last year’s festival, will be there to represent us. She’s also there on her own behalf, having been short listed in the short story category for her marvellous flash fiction collection, Finding A Way. Many congratulations to her.We’re particularly happy that a festival totally dedicated to flash fiction has been short listed in this category. Now in its third year, as far as we know, it’s still the only Flash Fiction Festival in the world and certainly the only one in the UK. Thanks to all the 2018 team Diane Simmons, Meg Pokrass, Santino Prinzi, K M Elkes, Michael Loveday, Matt Thorpe Coles and Karen Jones and our volunteers for making it such a success. We’ve included a few pictures here and there are lots more on a gallery of photographs from last year We had a lot of lovely comments on our feedback sheets last year and very much appreciated them. Here’s a few: “Learning from other writers/workshop leaders;
The warmth and inclusiveness of all the participants. Everyone a peer and accessible;
Workshops, readings and meeting other flash fiction writers;
The enthusiasm and encouragement of the presenters and organisers;
Meeting so many other writers;
The positive and encouraging atmosphere;
I thought the organisation was excellent. Loved the range of speakers. The venue was fabulous and the food was fantastic – thanks for catering so wonderfully for special diets;
The talented facilitators running workshops;
The camaraderie, everyone was helpful and friendly
Location superb, wonderful house and gardens, Food and company lovely. so it was all great. .
This year, we are hoping it will be equally as much fun. It’s taking place 28-30th June at the same venue Trinity College. We have places left, writers coming from all over the world, and lots of fantastic workshops from extraordinary writers and teachers. We love Flash Fiction!
Are you booked or are you a workshop leader at our third Flash Fiction Festival and arriving at the Festival on Friday afternoon 28th June? Or attending the pre-festival workshop with Kathy Fish and think you might need a meal when you have finished? We’ve arranged Bristol’s wood-fired mobile pizza outfit, Wood Chop Pizza to come along and serve their pizzas cooked on the spot in their wood – fired oven from about 4.30 pm – 6.30 pm.
The simple menu pictured here gives a choice of vegetarian and a meat based pizza. And there is also a vegan option not listed. Hospitality director Diane Simmons and Festival Director, Jude Higgins have sampled a pizza and they are very tasty. We need advance payment to secure Wood Chop Pizza’s services. And if you want one, it would be helpful to us if you paid via paypal or any card below asap and then contact Diane Simmons to say which one you have chosen. Four choices, Margherita, Portobello, Vegan (not listed on the menu but instead of cheese, sundried tomatoes and artichokes) and Salami and Chorizo. £8.50 each.
Pizza orders now closed.
The bar will be open from 2.00 pm on Friday serving wine, beer, prosecco, soft drinks and snacks. If you don’t want a hot pizza, you are welcome to bring your own picnic food to eat in the lovely grounds and the building that houses the bar.
The evening of readings begins at 6.00 pm.
Not booked yet? Places are going fast now. Join the crowd from all parts of the UK and other enthusiastic flash fiction writers from Ireland, USA, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, New Zealand and Australia. We’d love to see you there. All welcome, beginners and experienced alike.