Columns > Published on June 28th, 2013

UPDATED WITH WINNER: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: June Edition

Flash Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity - The Gatsby/Summer Edition

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 similar. 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

  • 25 words is the limit. (You can write less, but you can't write more.)
  • The whole story must only be 2 sentences. No more. No less.
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title (not included in the word count, but keep it under 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.
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before June 27 will be considered. We'll run the winner on June 28.

This Month's Prize

A copy of Stephen King's new pulp fiction book Joyland (Hard Case Crime). Here's the synopsis from Amazon.com with a note from the Master of Horror himself, Stephen King, about why you can't get this as an eBook.

 Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book."

– Stephen King

Your Inspiration

Since it's June and the first day of summer/solstice are on the horizon, let's use a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby to inspire flash fiction pieces about summer, heat, and ifyoulike, Gatsby-related stuff.

In two weeks it'll be the longest day in the year... Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.

-Daisy in The Great Gatsby

Now Get Writing!


And the winner is...Werus

Phew...this edition of the Flash Fiction contest was full of really fantastic entries, but Werus' entry had the best combination of images. I love the picture of the robed figure (which morphs completely when you realize who it really is!) and the allusion to (I'm assuming) Gaelic solstice rituals was a great touch. Anyway, read it for yourself:

Darkness Comes

A robed figure raises a jeweled dagger towards the sky, chanting, “Chuige oíche.”
Behind him a voice calls, “Harry! Remember to bring in the cat.”

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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