Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Time I got Flash Fiction Right...

Flash Fiction is becoming very popular, more competitions are using this format. Even the major Bridport Prize competition introduced a flash fiction category in 2010- and there's still time to enter the 2011 competition.

I have a problem with condensing a story into such a brief amount of words. Basically I am much better at writing longer pieces.

Personally if the idea inspires me then I might be able to do it, but often the problem is my ideas are too big and don't work when they're cut...

Whenever I try anything this short I refer back to my post of the 17th January this year where writer AJ Humpage kindly helped me out by explaining the essentials. You can find the link to her blog post on writing flash fiction, there.

I said I did get it right once-and as it is no longer available on the web- I'm going to post it here for you to read.

Now here's the inspiration for my story...

In 2007 all the awards ceremonies had a few celebrities wearing strapless dresses and hems that flowed out over their feet. I did wonder what would happen if someone foolishly stepped on their hem...

About a week or so after this I was listening to Radio 4 and an actress who had appeared in one of the early Star Trek episodes (the 1960's TV version) was recounting her costume disaster, it was fine until she breathed and moved, so the costume department used tape to keep her brief dress in place.

(I later discovered you can buy pre-cut tape to keep your clothes in situ, and it's great for low necklines that could expose too much flesh if you bend over. It's saved my embarrassment a few times.)

I was also inspired by a number of older well known lady celebrities who still look stunning despite their age- I'm not suggesting they went to Lola's extremes of course.

(The final line was plucked out of the air after the rest was written and got a laugh...)

The story appeared in print in the Winter 2007 edition of Scribe magazine, and between May 2010 and early May 2011 as an audio download (read by me) on the Nottingham Writers' Club website. (I even have my own MP3 copy).

(My pseudonym for the entry was Lola de Cortez.)

Positive Exposure

    When the work dried up I knew I had to do something. Who would know it was me doing the voice-over for Squeaky Clean washing up liquid?
     I made changes, finding a nice cosmetic surgeon in Harley Street; who reminded me of my third husband. I had a face lift; botox and breast enlargement, and it certainly got me noticed.
     I was booked for Parkinson, and then invited to present a BAFTA for the best Make-Up and Hair in a movie. I'd have liked something a bit more prominent, but there's always the Oscars.
     I looked amazing on the night, three inch heels, diamonds at my wrist and ears, complimenting those sweet little gems in my beehive. And the dress...a perfect grey strapless floor length silk. It was such a shame I had to tape myself into it.
     It wasn't that it didn't fit,well it was a teeny bit loose about the chest, but I couldn't let the opportunity go- it was reduced in the sales.
     Double-sided tape was all I needed, strategically placed; I even bronzed my shoulders and cleavage to give me a glow.
     If only that silly young man doing all the talking hadn't stepped on my hem. My dress parted company with my chest, and I was bared to the world.
    The next day the tabloids were covered with my moment of exposure, and I must say I looked good for 62.
     The headline blazed '60's Siren Coming Unstuck', and I've been working every day since.

© Carol Bevitt 2007

Rarely do I get such a ready-made character pop into my head, so Lola was obviously lurking, waiting to be written, just at the right time...


Keith Havers said...

Nice one, Carol. Good title too.
It's really difficult to cram a story into just a few words.

Carolb said...

Thanks Keith.
I've always considered 'Positive Exposure' to be better read aloud than read on the page.
I think I need to write more short pieces so improve the skill.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love it, Carol! Well done. Reminds of that incident with Judy F coming apart at the Awards and exposing the bra - didn't do her any harm either!

I like shorter fiction - it's the full length I struggle with...

Carolb said...

Thanks Rosemary. It just shows how often fiction mirrors fact and vice versa.
Well you clearly have worked hard on your full length stories with your recent book 'Dangerous Deceit'.

Teresa Ashby said...

Really enjoyed that, Carol :-)

Carolb said...

Thank you Teresa.

Anonymous said...

Liked the story - especially the ending, "I've been working every day since".
I love writing shorter fiction, like Rosemary it's the longer stuff I find more difficult.

Carolb said...

Thank you Sally. Yes that ending makes me laugh every time- I'm amazed I actually wrote it...