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Flash of inspiration: National Flash Fiction Day

Some of the writers that will be taking part in National Flash-Fiction Day. Picture: Jane Barlow

Some of the writers that will be taking part in National Flash-Fiction Day. Picture: Jane Barlow

  • by KATE PICKLES
 

IT has been described as wee and packing a powerful punch – but it’s not whisky they’re talking about.

“Flash fiction,” or simply incredibly short stories to newcomers, is quickly growing in popularity with tickets for tonight’s event in the Capital going fast.

Writers will read their stories – of less than 1,000 words – at the Scottish Storytelling Centre as part of a national celebration of the art form.

It will be the very first time Edinburgh’s spoken word groups, Blind Poetics, Illicit Ink, Inky Fingers and Writers’ Bloc, have come together as part of one major event to celebrate National Flash Fiction Day.

It will see the pick of Edinburgh’s talent perform their works of flash fiction – or very tiny, compacted tales – bringing to life stories that take minutes from start to finish.

Ari Cass Maran, who is co-ordinating the event says it promised to be a unique and exciting day.

She said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between Edinburgh’s spoken word groups who, up until now, had pretty much done their own thing. We’re already seeing some pretty exciting material.”

Lying somewhere between poetry and the short story, the very compact story form gives writers and narrators just a few hundred words to captivate their audience.

Also known as short shorts, sudden fiction, micro fiction and postcard fiction, prose poems, they all refer to stories which are less than 1000 words long, and often much, much shorter.

Every word, comma and line break is crucial in these tiny works of fiction. While their extreme brevity allows for a looser definition of the beginning-middle-end story structure, these are not “fragments”, they are complete unto themselves.

Sometimes resembling poetry in the way their language twists and turns, flash fiction can be an entertaining spectacle.

David Marsland, who is compering the event in Edinburgh, says it is a particularly skilled craft. “Flash fiction is the cut diamond of storytelling. There are tales of brilliance with all the value of a novel, polished to perfection. This event will see their writers shine and audiences be dazzled.”

There is no time in this very short form to set scenes and build character.

Micro-stories have no space to describe characters and may not even include even a name unless it conveys a lot of additional information for the story.

Co-ordinator Halsted Bernard says it gives “glimpses into a world”.

She adds: “It is a wonderful distilled form of storytelling, they have such an emotional impact because they are so cut down.

“We are really excited because we have got some new voices as well as some experienced ones.

“This is the first time the spoken word groups have come together at such an event and in such a lovely venue.

“We are all creative types with different ideas and I think this will come together to create a really inspirational event.”

■ National Flash Fiction Day at the Scottish Story Telling Centre, High Street, tonight from 7-9pm.

 

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