Flash Fiction of a Different Kind: An exercise: Part 2

In Yesterday’s post I said I was going to spend a strict 4 hour period creating a short story for an upcoming Halloween Story session.

I did.

How did it go? 

Well, given that this was the first time I’ve written a fiction piece to a strict deadline since my GCE English Language Exam 33 or so years ago, I got a complete story written within my allotted three hour period: a story which runs to 2,830 words – so a not-bad sprint for the time period allowed, and I got the thing edited to a state where I’m prepared to stand up and read it this coming Thursday and, if it doesn’t get me booed off stage, I’ll share it here at some point in the build-up to Halloween.

What did I go in with? 

I had the bare bones of a story in my mind. It had to be Halloween themed so I thought I’d go for something around Trick or Treating, but in an English environment (A shocker to some given my predilection for US based stories on this particular festival…) where a father watches as his son approaches a sinister looking door, dressed up and ready for festivities. I had a reasonable idea where it was going to go, but no detail.

I also wanted to include something in there about pumpkin carving – or more accurately, the hardships we suffered in ’70’s Northern England about having to carve our Halloween specials out of a turnip…that was some hard going there. None of that made it into the story, so maybe I can keep that for my Angela’s Ashes effort…

The process? 

Like most of my short stories it did start to run away with itself, but the strict timescale meant I did make a more conscious effort to keep it reigned in. However, also like a lot of my shorts I found the story became more detailed in certain areas – ideas springing off ideas to produce some interesting (I think), nuances and detail which I was pleased to be able to capture in such a short space of time. While I originally had a story which could be summed up in a couple of sentences, I think it ended up being a bit more textured.

I also found that the deadline meant I didn’t fall down rabbit holes of research/ pissing about on the internet. If a google search didn’t turn up the fact I wanted immediately, then it was marked up with a note, and looked up during the one hour editing time I allowed myself.

The result? 

You know, I quite like my little tale. It’s a dark campfire type tale, which is what I was trying to achieve. There are some similarities in themes to some of the other things I’ve written but that would have been the case if I’d spent a fortnight on it.

The process was painless enough, actually quite relaxing, to think I may well do it again – while there isn’t any doubt that a lot of stories will need a lot more time and thought devoted to them before they look anything like presentable, I think there are a lot of ideas in my note books (the turquoise, the black and red, or the grey one) to give them three hours each. If nothing else it helps the poor mites escape from the entrapment from between the covers for just a little bit.

I may well share any feedback I happen to get on this little Halloween nasty – I’ll certainly share the story closer to the 31st. In the meantime here’s the opening…

The Trick or Treat Perspective

The man watched surreptitiously as his son approached the door. The boy walked forward tentatively and the man, from his hiding place, willed him on.

Tommy had insisted on the sack-cloth looking latex mask – the one with stitched over lips set against a muddy brown visage and with a faux rope noose around the neck. The mask had been worn many times and was showing signs of wear-and-tear but when the man had suggested buying something new, the boy had protested vehemently, so he had shrugged and continued to help his son dress for the evening.

It was late for trick-or-treating – too late really, the man knew: and certainly long past when the children dressed as ghouls, vampires, Frankenstein monsters or whatever this year’s fad was, had been and gone. Not that the house on Borstal Hill, set back from the main road, was visited by many: children or adult.

Keep watching to see what happens next…to me or the story…

And of course, if you just have to read something NOW, you can always check out Basement Tales or You Could Make a Killing – both now available on Amazon Kindle

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