Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Have a lovely Christmas, everyone. I thought I’d share some festive flash fiction for this post.
Broadcast News and Link
I’ll start by sharing a link to the recent Three Minute Santas flash fiction show hosted by Hannah Kate of North Manchester FM. I was delighted to have a piece on this show last year and even more so to be included again. I hope you enjoy the stories. There is a lovely variety here and a good mix of Christmas songs too. (It was also nice to hear again Wombling Merry Christmas, which I haven’t heard in years!).
The link takes you to the show. I’m on during the first hour with my tale The Night Before Christmas, which in itself is inspired by a very famous piece of festive writing!
The show was broadcast on 18th December 2021 between 2 and 4 pm and I was thrilled fellow members of the Association of Christian Writers, Rosemary Johnson and Fiona Linday, also had stories broadcast. We also belong to the ACW Flash Fiction group which meets online regularly. (One thing to come out of the pandemic was the use of Zoom for group meetings and events. ACW took the idea of groups meeting and expanded it out into genres. We hope there will be more. They’re a great way of connecting writers with shared writing interests who live hundreds of miles apart).
For Hannah’s show, submissions are done “vocally”. There is a link into which you record your story, confirm your name and email, and then she gets in contact if she wants to use your story. It’s a great way for me to share audio work on my website too. My main way of submitting a story is usually through Google Forms, Duotrope or Submittable. These seem to be the main ways for submitting stories now.
Even email attachments or work in the body of an email is becoming “old hat”. I can remember when being able to send anything by email rather than by snail mail was a major step forward! For one thing it saved lots of time not queueing in the Post Office getting things weighed – that was weeks from my life I won’t get back!
The Joys of Festive Flash Fiction
I enjoy festive flash fiction writing as, by its nature, it is lighthearted (and for me a tonic at these darker times of the year). I focus on “side” characters in the main Christmas stories – Santa’s employees, Rudolph, and in one case a young shepherd who is worried about leaving the sheep despite knowing the angels have told him and his elders to go to Bethlehem. You can have a lot of fun with characters like that.
I keep these stories short as they then work well on social media as a cheerful little tale to share. I sometimes do a “Christmassy” bit for my YouTube channel and it is easy to share the link for that on Twitter and Facebook. Images, and videos even more so, catch people’s attention.
So what would be the perfect ingredients for a festive flash story? Hmm… let’s see.
Baking The Perfect Story
- An intriguing character who is also often the narrator.
- A tight word count – don’t want said intriguing character going on for too long.
- A feel good and appropriate ending for the story.
- Drop your character into a situation they must overcome.
- Use humour as much as possible – makes your character more likeable too.
- Get your character to show the reader what they’re thinking and why. Encourages empathy. (Thoughts are shown in italics. I love writing character thoughts because I can show something of their real attitude here).
- The ending to be reasonable for the story premise. If magic is used to solve a situation, it should be clear from the outset this is a possibility because the character lives in a magical world.
F = Flora wanted to curl up and hide.
E = Expecting to be at the ball and then to be told she wasn’t going was heartbreaking.
S = Stuff hanging about for my fairy godmother to turn up, Flora thought. I’ll sort this. She kept Cinders waiting for far too long. What is wrong with these people?
T = Timekeeping is for peasants evidently. Am not having that. By hook or by crook I’ll get to that ball. It was good of the King to put on a separate ball for the domestic staff to thank them for working hard at the royal wedding.
I = Intention was fine, Flora discovered. It was turning it into meaningful action which was difficult.
V = Veiling herself, Flora found a way around her problem. She sneaked into the back of Cinder’s old coach, kept at the back of the old baron’s home for sentimental reasons, Flora was told. Flora suspected nobody wanted to upset the fairy godmother by dumping or destroying it. Nobody cared about the replacement domestic help now Cinders had gone on to better things. Flora also found nobody noticed the domestic help. That helped.
I = Intending to be at the Palace by midnight, Flora crept in at ten minutes past. It will do, she thought, now where is he?
T = Tom has to be here somewhere, Flora thought. He said he would be. He ought to be. He is the Prince’s footman, the one who came getting the ladies to try on that wretched glass slipper. I wasn’t trying that horrible thing. Besides, I knew it would fit Cinders. She told me. I am in the royal kitchens. He said he would be here.
E = Expecting to see a man who made promises, Flora had to stop herself screaming. There on the floor were lizards, rats, and mice. The fairy godmother has really got to work on that spell, Flora thought. Wouldn’t it be kinder to let these poor creatures stay as humans? Back in animal form, won’t they remember they once had been something else?
S = Smiling, Flora turned as a handsome young man walked in via the opposite door. ‘Tom!’ He smiled. ‘One moment, Flora love. I’ll shoo this lot out. I gave that fairy godmother grief for doing this. So unkind to these creatures. Anyway, it’s time you and I celebrated the season. She did tell me there was more than one love match going on in this Palace this year. Cinders and His Nibs are having their turn. Now we can have ours too!’
Allison Symes – December 2021
You’ll see I’ve used a side character here by inventing Flora and Tom. It is implied Flora works for Cinder’s father and Tom’s job is spelled out. Why should they not meet when Cinders and Prince Charming did? Given the fairytales are classic stories so often told (and performed) at Christmas time, this story fits in well with a festive theme.
I hope you get plenty of books and stories as presents over Christmas. If you really want to help the authors after the holiday season, please write a review of their books on Amazon and, if possible, Goodreads too. Reviews don’t have to be long. Indeed the shorter ones are more memorable. But no matter what genre you read, a review will help the author and it is something every writer I know finds difficult to get people to do. I have no idea why!
The lovely thing with stories is they last all year. Yes, the festive flashes are seasonal but they’re something to look forward to as the old year draws to a close. Then there’s the promise of all those new stories to write and read in the coming year.
Stories are wonderful things and the very special ones transcend generations. A Christmas Carol is probably the best known example and I’ve recently carried out one family tradition of re-watching the marvellous Muppet Christmas Carol. Wonderful adaptation and Michael Caine is brilliant in it.
A Christmas Carol, other than the Nativity itself, is probably the most famous Christmas story and bears endless re-reading and telling. You know you’ve got a terrific plot and characters when your work can take that – and for well over a century too. Just a pity Dickens isn’t getting the royalties now!
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email