Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a Hint ... 25 Words or Less

I never thought I’d buy a book of fiction where each story is 25 words or less. But yeah, I ordered it and can hardly wait for it to get here. It’s Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, compiled by Robert Swartwood and published by W.W. Norton & Company. I submitted my own Hint Fiction – after I figured out what hint fiction really is. In a nutshell, it’s the hint of a bigger, more complex story, and other than that, I don’t have a clue because my submissions were rejected.

Hint fiction was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” —

I suppose the bigger, more complex story can be anything we want it to be—something sad or something happy. Most people read that and think sad, but I’ve been known to purchase things that don't don't work out for one reason or another, and never return them to the store. They end up in a garage sale. And that goes for baby shoes ... I remember. :)

I haven’t read any hint fiction as good as Hemingway’s so how do we know when it’s good? Is there a trick to writing it? What makes it bad? Is 'beauty' in the eye of the beholder?

Here are the two “stories” I submitted to Swartwood’s Hint Fiction anthology. We were supposed to title these stories too, but I'm incredibly horrible at choosing titles.

Mr. Fix-it and The Kindergarten Teacher
She didn't have a headboard in her bedroom. Didn't matter. In high school he'd been elected 'Most Creative Guy.' He grinned. He liked this challenge.

(A hint-crit partner said I was a romantic, but actually, I was thinking of something much more sinister.)

View from a Bridge
The cherry Popsicle dripped down her arm and onto the sleeve of her white blouse. He sucked in his breath, pulled the camera closer. Gotcha.

The story below was written for the Gotham contest but I forgot about it and missed the deadline. Shows how organized I am. I like this one much better than the other two.

I Thee Dead
The groom stood before the wedding guests, knowing the bride wouldn’t show, wondering how long he should wait before he wept.

I like hint fiction. I may not be too good at writing it but it’s fun to try, and I know Swartwood’s anthology will be a good read.

One Reviewer wrote: The stories in Robert Swartwood's Hint Fiction have some serious velocity. Some explode, some needle, some bleed, and some give the reader room to dream. They're fun and addictive, like puzzles or haiku or candy. I've finished mine but I want more. (Stewart O'Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster )

I can't wait! I can't wait!
You can order your copy HERE. Or, Robert is giving away the Ultimate Flash Fiction package


Charles Gramlich said...

I think you'll enjoy. I found the pieces pretty liberating for my imagination. I like the examples you include here from your own stuff. I know he had LOTS of subs for that antho.

Carole said...

I have never tried hint fiction although I did submit a flash fiction story and the judges in the contest wrote this back to me:

"Would love to see much more of this story. This could be a book!"

The contest was for 250 words or less. Now they want it longer? Weird.

I loved the Hemingway piece.

Jess said...

Charles, thanks. I knew he had a lot of submissions -- some big names too. I'm looking forward to reading yours. What fun to be included.

Carole--what a wonderful compliment! Sounds like they'd like to consider your story outside the realm of the contest. :) You go, girl!

James R Tate said...

I've tried writing a little flash fiction but haven't had much luck. Considering my short attention span, you'd think it would be easy. Hint fiction seems to be just a teaser--without the pleasure of the whole story. I applaud you for trying it.