The 4th annual SCI-FI-LONDON + Urban Fantasist 48 Hour Flash Fiction Challenge starts this Saturday 11th April. You can find a full explanation of all the rules for the challenge (and watch out for the #SFL48FLASH Twitter hashtag) HERE however for those of you less-than familiar with the format, here are 12 top tips for writing flash fiction
(1) Flash Fiction has all the elements of a traditional self-contained short story, including a beginning, a middle and an end, even if some aspects may be implied.
(2) Flash Fiction is NOT an extract or vignette from a longer story and should never end with the words To Be Continued...
(3) The definition of Flash Fiction can vary from competition (or publication) to competition. For example SFL48FLASH specifies a maximum of 1500 words but no minimum. Other publications may set the word length at 1000, 700, 500 or even 250 words of less.
(4) Please pay close attention to any particular rules regarding subject matter. For example with SFL48FLASH, as well as having a science fiction or fantasy-related theme, two clues: the TITLE plus a specific piece of DIALOGUE, must be incorporated somewhere within the story.
(5) Please follow any rules regarding manuscript layout and file formatting.
(6) Comply with any deadlines specified. This is particularly important with SFL48FLASH as the whole point of the challenge is you only have 48 hours, from being provided with the two clues, in which to write and submit your story. Don’t grumble, that works out to a writing rate of around just 30 words an hour!
(7) And, talking of grumbling, when the results are announced, please don’t start arguing with the judges and complaining that your entry should have been better placed. Judges’ decisions are final. Similarly, please don’t ask for a critique of your work - this is a competition, not a creative writing course.
(8) Don’t be Evil. Nobody objects to sex, violence and swear words - as long as they are pertinent to the story and are not being used gratuitously. That means no submissions advocating racial and religious hatred, sexism, child abuse, etc.
(9) Don’t get carried away with the gadgets. Yes, this is sci-fi and fantasy but readers (and judges) still want characters who they can engage with and care about. Don’t make your characters mere caricatures whose only purpose is to operate your gadgets.
(10) Start the action rolling immediately. You do not have the word-length luxury of a novel in which to develop your story so cut to the quick as soon as possible rather than waste time on waffling introductory dialogue.
(11) Avoid a clichéd ending. This is a short story, not a preamble to a punchline which (a) probably isn’t as funny as you think it is and (b) is one the judges will have heard before. “We appear to be the only survivors on this planet. My name’s Adam.” “Oh, hello, my name is Eve!”
(12) Finally, do be original. It goes without saying that you should never copy/plagiarise another writer’s work but you should also strive to come up with new ideas or at least a fresh spin on an established trope. Too often judges encounter stories where the denouement is obvious from the first paragraph. So be bold, make it fresh.
Welcome to Urban Fantasist
Curated by former barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer, award-winning tech journalist, best-selling non-fiction author, sometime werewolf hunter, and digital radio host Charles Christian to inform and entertain you with news and comment on weird tales, urban legends, tech, geek stuff, science fiction, magick, folklore and history.
Also includes the Grievous Angel webzine for free-to-read, sci-fi and fantasy poetry and flash fiction.
And the archive for the Urban Fantasist Weird Tales Magick & Folklore digital radio/podcast archive.
Plus links to Charles Christian's books including fiction, nonfiction, and all the latest reviews.
"Charles Christian defiantly makes my world a brighter, funnier place."
"The legendary Charles Christian at his eclectic best... his insight and humour alone make this a must-read blog."
"His tech journalism is always witty. He has a talent for pricking the overblown claims of suppliers."
The Urban Fantasist website is now averaging over 3000 page views daily and 95,000 page views a month.
Over 166 weeks in Amazon's writing reference books bestsellers Top 20.
Can I copy content from this site?
Yes... providing you properly credit it. Here's the technical bit: Urban Fantasist content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License which means it may be shared, remixed or used commercially as long as Urban Fantasist or Grievous Angel is cited as the source. If you have any questions, please email or use our contact form.
Feel free to drop a few PayPal coins in our Tip Jar to help us meet some of our running costs. Chocolate, tea, flasks of wine, books of verse, the usual.
Copyright © Charles Christian
& WordsandVision Limited 2017
Grievous Angel ISSN 2059-6057
This site is fuelled entirely by green tea, sarcasm and dark chocolate.
Contact Address: Oak Lodge, Darrow Green Road, Denton, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 0AY, United Kingdom