Fast Forward Press' release party for its new flash fiction anthology is coming up tonight at the Mercury Cafe, and you could be featured in the next book. To the reader who writes the best one sentence story in the comments section below, Fast Forward Press will offer publication in their next anthology. The runner up will receive a copy of the new book, The Incredible Shrinking Story. To inspire your flash fiction, we talked with Fast Forward editor Leah Rogin-Roper about her favorite one sentence stories.
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." by Ernest Hemingway
Leah Rogin-Roper: "The story was that Hemingway was drunk at a bar, as usual, and somebody asked him what the shortest amount of space he could tell a story was, and so he said 'I can tell a story in six words' and they kind of dared him to. He may have been joking, but at some point he said his greatest work was that six-word story. I've taught it to kids, and they brainstorm different things it could mean. What most adults will says is, 'oh something terrible happened to the baby.' But the kids came up with all these great interpretations, like maybe there's a shoe smuggling ring out of Mexico, or maybe the mom's a shopaholic and she bought way too many pairs of shoes. I love that. It kind of illustrates Hemingway's iceberg principle, where most of it's buried underneath the words, so you can excavate it with a little bit of work."
"Seven cock-rings later, she kissed me." by Michael Flatt (from The Incredible Shrinking Story)
"A few years ago we had a six-word story contest at a lot of our readings, so we had this contest and this guy submitted this story, which our editor used as a model for a while, but it was anonymous. The person wasn't there and it won our contest that evening. My co-editor Kona ran into this guy randomly, I think she was doing some sort of flash fiction talk somewhere, and she brought that story in as an example and he said "Hey, I wrote that!" It's got this whole story to it. You have to kind of wonder how there could be seven cock-rings and what happened in order to make that need to come before getting kissed. " "I still make coffee for two." by Zak Nelson (from Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs)
"I think one of the things that makes it so powerful is the word 'still.' That's one of the things I've had classes talk about quite a bit is any other word there and it would be an entirely different story. So if it said 'I make coffee for two now,' suddenly it's a different story altogether. I think it does a really good job of showing how in this compressed form every word has to be the right word."
"The worst thing about secret girlfriends is that when they get hit by cars you're not supposed to cry." from onesentence.org
"I don't have an author for this one. It's from onesentence.org and they take the authors out deliberately because people rank the stories and that's how they move up the list. I like the idea of secrets and confession in writing and so it's got that element to it. It's got this whole sort of spiral of a story that goes with it as well."
"She tries to get things out of men that she can't get because she's not 15% prettier." by Richard Brautigan (from Romel Drives on Deep Into Egypt)
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"People started writing flash fiction before they were calling it flash fiction and I really think Brautigan is one of the grandfathers of flash fiction even though I don't think that term was ever used while he was alive. I really like that one. It's such a simple story, but I think it helps you get the character. I think this is another one that works really well on implication. When I read that story it gives me a really clear picture of a person."
Inspired? Now it's your turn. Leave your one sentence story in the comment section below, and be sure to provide your e-mail address in the e-mail field when you leave a comment so we can get in touch with you if you're a winner. You have until September 30 to submit your story, and we'll announce the winners soon after. Get writing!