Circles of light swirl in the cool blue water. It’s a perfect day for a swim. Pulling the water with my arms, then floating, and feeling the freshness of the day, I swam around the inlet watching the little swirls. Then they turned into ripples and I heard waves sloshing against the shore.
I looked up and saw a shadow flash between the trees. Then a bright light skittered across the sky. Where did it come from? Alone in the lake I felt something clinging to my ankle. Startled, I quickly shook it off and swam toward the shore. As I got closer, I saw little brown toes on the beach ahead of me. Where had they come from? I was afraid to look up and see what it might be. I paused and it was gone.
As I slipped on my shoes, a rustling in the bushes caught my attention as the sun was lowering itself across the sky. A slight tingling crept up my legs. “I’m not afraid,” I told myself so I could stop the tingling from reaching my belly and nesting deep inside.
I love the water. It is my refuge, my relaxation, my energy, and usually my peace. Today the water holds creeping things. The beach carries a strangeness, and the woods have a life of their own. The lake is where I usually come to cool my anxious thoughts. But not today. I see the shadows of dusk like doilies on the lake, and I am caught between the beauty and mystery of the scene.
As I walk across the cooling sand, it is smooth and there are no footprints on it. What were those toes that didn’t dent the soft sand? A cool breeze dashes against my wet shorts and I shiver. I don’t believe the crazy stories about visitations to the woods near the lake. The video I saw on YouTube late last night showing a creepy shadow in the woods and a flash across the sky was not very realistic but I had a dream about it. This morning the creepy feeling stayed with me through the woods to the lake.
As I look at the woods my curiosity draws me toward a different path at the edge of the trees. The path the shadow appeared to take. I hesitate. I should go left, my usual route, yet my feet take me to the right. I step into the shadows of the trees. I can’t stop myself. I need to know what is around the bend. I hear a slight rustling up ahead yet I take another step. Something jumps out of a low growing thicket like a shadow across the path. I creep over to the edge of the path, and see the dark shining eyes of a wood frog easily recognizable by the black robbers mask above its eyes.
I laugh out loud alone in the woods with the company of a brown frog staring up at me. I was a natural science major in college and love to tromp through the woods. No more YouTube silly videos for me. I’ll take a walk with a frog in the woods any day of the week over sitting in front of a computer.
With a word count of 543, this is the first Flash Fiction story I have written. I submitted it today to the Wow Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. It would be fun to win, but it was so much fun writing a story in an afternoon meeting time and word count restraints, that the motivation to write in itself was worth it. Each contest has it's own guidelines, but this one allows you to enter a story that has already been published and share it wherever you would like. You own it! I am considering entering one of the other Flash Fiction Contests in the future.
Flash fiction is a complete short short story sometimes called sudden fiction or microfiction. A flash fiction contest is a fun way to challenge yourself to write within the time and word limit. I have been practicing spontaneous writing with a fabulous group of women in our Inspiring Writing Group, which really helps me write more quickly.
I recently discovered the Flash Fiction genre through WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction contest. I have three days to write a story for their contest. Whether I make the deadline or not, I will post a flash fiction story on my blog. It will be good practice. The WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction contest requires 250 – 750 words and a small entry fee. The author retains the copyright and can publish the story anywhere they would like.
After a Google search, I found many other Flash Fiction contests. Some have a fee while others are free to enter. It’s important to read the submission guidelines for the contest you want to enter. For an added fee you may be able to get a critique with your submission.
I’m not sure if I will make the August 31st deadline for the WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction contest, but it will be fun to write a short story and enter a short story contest. It’s a great motivation and challenge to write something short, creative, and meet a deadline. There are also Flash Nonfiction contests. Here are just a few of the Flash Fiction contests I ran across with a quick search. You are welcome to send links to other Flash Fiction contests.
The Timberline Review (a publication of Willamette Writers) Theme based flash, short story, novella, and novel excerpt.
Wow Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest
Brilliant Flash Fiction
Why you should not quickly write a Flash Fiction story with links to contests
Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest – yearly
Bath Flash Fiction Contest - UK
I submitted my Flash Fiction story on time to the Wow Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. It was so fun to write a very short story with an open prompt––write about anything. I will have to do this again!
There are many ways to write an opening line for a novel, but there is no doubt the first sentence is important. The best advise I have heard is to write a sentence that draws the reader into the story so they will want to read more.
I write in bits and pieces and found that I had two different opening sentences for the scifi story I am writing. The opening could change as the story progresses, but the opening leads to the next paragraph so an enticing first sentence is important even for the initial draft of the story.
The point is that I need your help. Which of these sentences do you find more interesting, sentence one or sentence two?
Whether or not you like to read science fiction, would purchase this book, or read my blog, I have a feeling you would have an opinion about the sentence you like best. I’d love to hear from you.
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Nancy Miller, M.S. is a Career Counselor, Life Coach, and writer. Nancy will assist you with story ideas, organizing your book whether fiction or nonfiction, and choosing a method for publishing and printing.