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.
Curated by English barrister and Reuters correspondent turned editor, author, blogger, podcaster, award-winning tech journalist, storyteller, and sometime werewolf hunter Charles Christian. He writes, he drinks tea, he knows things. This site also has links to Charles' books and the Weird Tales Show videos and podcasts.
Descended from a motley crew of smugglers and rogues, Christian was born a chime-child with a caul and grew up in a haunted medieval house by the harbourside in the Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough. He now lives in a barn on a ley-line in rural East Anglia. His latest book is The Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle: Wraiths, Werewolves & Other Weird Tales from the Yorkshire Wolds (Haunted Landscapes Volume 2)
According to folklore a caul-shrouded chime-child can't drown at sea but can see and talk to faerie folk and also has protection against spells cast by malevolent sorcerers. And yes, he was once commissioned to go on a werewolf hunt on the night of a full moon by a newspaper. Spoiler alert: he didn't find one. (Or it didn't find him.)
Latest Video Post
Latest book: The Wold Newton Triangle
Virtual Tip Jar
You can now support Urban Fantasist, its podcasts and its new video channel through our Virtual Tip Jars on PayPal and Patreon, giving you a choice of ad hoc or regular payments.
Tel: +44(0)1986 788666
Tel/Txt: +44(0)7786 738172
WhatsApp etc: +44(0)7786 738172
"The only way to keep folklore alive is to share it" ...comment from viewer on YouTube channel
"Charles Christian... a man of paranormality" ...Howard Hughes, Talk Radio UK
"Cynicism has always been a part of your (very impressive) brand" ...Kirk Fackre
"Your storytelling set the scene for a fascinating evening of stunning music and terrifying drama" ...Chris Caswell
"I can't help myself. Yesterday, I went back to this post over and over again and it made me laugh out loud each time. So now I'm bringing it to all my followers with the recommendation to follow Charles Christian because he posts lots of stuff that brightens my day and will brighten yours, too" ...LinkedIn commentator
"A great witty intelligence in the world. We need more CC and less monkey-brained politicians" ...Julia Bohanna
"I love your posts, always something interesting to read and often funny" ...Karen Morton
"I was saddened to see you have retired your podcast. I never would have found your books without it. Well if a good story deserves rereading a good podcast demands relistening. Looking forward to your next stage with the time this change will afford you. Happy Trails, Pardner" ...Jonathan Neuhaus
"You are a great and generous host" ...Patti Negri, The Hollywood Psychic
"I host a daily morning show in Las Vegas and I like your shows very much. I love the way you pace your voice and thoughts is fantastic and you have a way of making your guest interviews sound more like conversations. Just wanted to let you know" ...Clay Baker
"The ever wonderful Charles Christian and his Weird Tales Show"...Into The Portal Podcast
"The Master of Mysteries & Folklore" ...Fantasy Radio UK
"The witty and knowledgeable Charles Christian."
"We poled our fans on their favorite podcasts and that's how I heard of Weird Tales Show. You are well loved by the geekiverse, and fans of folklore history and monsters!"
"Charles Christian is really out there cool."
"Charles Christian defiantly makes my world a brighter, funnier place."
"The legendary Charles Christian at his eclectic best..."
"Charles Christian is my inner spirit animal, thank you for making me laugh."
"You always make me laugh! Thank you for brightening my day with your dark humour."
"the funny, wonderful and slightly cantankerous Charles Christian"
Charles Christian's Books