Columns > Published on July 31st, 2015

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: July Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity.

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or prompt. You write a flash fiction piece using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 31 words, tops. No more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words.
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before July 30th will be considered. We'll run the winner on July 31st.

This Month's Prize

A copy of Edan Lepucki's highly-praised debut novel, California. (Hey, even Colbert liked it!)

The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can't reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she's pregnant.

Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.

A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind's dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.

Your Inspiration:

Hey, we did New York, how about  California?  From Compton to Karate Kid, from Sideways to San Andreas, from the Gold Rush to the Golden Gate: the stories of the Golden State are varied—almost mythological. What do you think of when you think of California? Write about it in 31 words (it was the 31st state) and win!


And the Winner is...Nicholas Anderson

Well, shit, you guys, you really hit it out of the park this time! I had the HARDEST time picking a winner, but alas, I have settled on Nicholas Anderson's triptych of images.  "I've heard rib bones hold up the Golden Gate." is just such a compelling image, both lovely and grotesque. Congrats, Nicholas, on giving my mind something to mull all day. Without further ado, the winning story:

What I've Heard of California

California?

I've heard bears are a big deal there. I've heard rib bones hold up the Golden Gate. I've heard you and I left our antiques below the cliffs of Monterey.

About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

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