Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo’

My project for National Novel Writing Month derailed my short fiction writing this week.  In fact, I am becoming convinced that NaNoWriMo actually has the ability to speed up time during November.  This week researchers at CERN discovered particles that travel at rates exceeding the speed of light.  I think they should designate them NaNos.  At any rate, although Flash Fiction Friday has come and gone, I’d still like to offer One Drop, Then Two, a 300 word piece which I hope unnerves you as much as it did me while writing it.  Enjoy!

One drop, then two.

The faucet had a slow leak with a rhythmic, almost hypnotic pattern.  The sound was the only thing keeping her anchored in the moment as panic tried to pry its way in and overcome rational thought.  He was sly, she had to give him that.  She’d thought she had been the one with the upper hand.  After all, she’d recognized his MO and put in the long hours of interviews and investigative work that was certain to get her a byline, and maybe a Pulitzer.

One drop, then two.

She’d posed as a hooker, haunting the truck stops between Kansas City and Salina.  She’d found him in Junction City.  He’d invited her into the cab of his Freightliner tractor-trailer.  He poured them both a glass of cheap wine.  She watched him fill her glass, but hadn’t seen him slip in the sedative.  It hadn’t taken much to knock her out.

One drop, maybe two.

When she came to, her wrists were in shackles, chain looped over a steel bar set into the concrete walls of a stark, utilitarian bathroom.  The bar was supposed to serve as a rod for a shower curtain, but she was the only thing dangling from it now.

One drop, then two.

She had no idea when he would return. She had no idea how long she’d been unconscious.  She did know that the remainder of her life was being measured out in the interval between drips.  She was certain he would slit her throat, just as he had done to the 37 women before her.  She wondered what it would feel like when the wickedly serrated blade of his knife pressed into the soft flesh below her chin.  She knew there would be blood.

It would start with one drop, then two.

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So here I am, ensnared between two competing priorities and passions at opposite ends of the literary continuum.  As much as I love novel-length works of fiction, I have also been enamored with short stories since I was a kid.  In his introduction to Just After Sunset, Stephen King discusses the art of the short story and describes the process of writing short fiction as a “fragile craft,” a skill that can atrophy or be forgotten with disuse.  I think he’s on to something.  My short fiction, at times, has seemed to suffer from a bizarre version of a literary eating disorder: skeletally anorexic, or feasting upon itself in bloated splendor.  This has resulted in too many of my short stories blissfully blimping their way into novella territory, or worse (perhaps) being truncated to the point that the richness of the potential tale is lost. 

I started exploring flash fiction this year in an effort to fight the battle of the bulge and to improve and hone my writing skills.  It is a challenging and demanding medium to work within.  Flash fiction can be broadly defined, but often it is described as fiction of less than 1000 words, or stories within a range of 250-500 words.  In other instances, it borders on micro fiction: tales of 100 words or less, or is dictated by a wide range of more prescriptive guidelines (often for challenges, contests, or writing prompts) such as fiction of exactly 50 words.  Writing effective flash fiction can be daunting, but it also offers huge payoffs.  Writers really have to bring their A game when trying to weave an evocative tale with word count limitations while paying attention to such elements as story arc, plot, character development, and resolution.  It is a great cure for bloat.  I’ve found that writing flash fiction has tightened up and improved my writing considerably.  Writing flash is not without its frustrations, but when you pen a story that works, it works.

In the midst of my current obsession with writing flash fiction, I’ve also been working on a novel-length work preliminarily titled Scorch.  While Scorch is not, er, blazing along at warp speed, I am making reasonable progress.  It has been an interesting daily juxtaposition, working with one foot in the world of flash fiction and the other planted firmly in a novel length piece.

Complicating matters further – a bit of a plot twist, if you will – is National Novel Writing Month (sometimes referred to as NaNoWriMo, or just NaNo), which launches in November.  Essentially, the goal of nanowrimo is to write a complete novel of at least 50,000 words between November 1 and 11:59 p.m. on November 30.  For me, that means cranking out words at roughly Mach 3.  During November, that explosion you hear in the distance is probably someone’s keyboard breaking the sound barrier.

This year I will again seek to complete National Novel Writing Month, most likely letting loose my zombie hordes to sate themselves on the flesh of the living.  But I’ll also keep pushing myself to crank out some flash.  November will be a heck of a ride!

What about you?  Eagerly anticipating NaNoWriMo?  Working on a large scale project or exploring a little flash fiction?  What formats are you currently working within, or enjoying reading?  I’d love to hear from you.  If you’d like to post a link to some of your own flash fiction, please feel free to include it in your comments – I always love a good tale!