Columns > Published on May 31st, 2016

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: Prince's Poetics 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

  • 15 words. It can be less, but not 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 May 27th will be considered. We'll run the winner on May 31st.

This Month's Prize

Win a copy of The Soul Standard, a quartet of gritty stories by some familiar LitReactor voices: Richard ThomasCaleb RossAxel Taiari, and Nik Korpon. The book doesn't come out until July, so you can win before you can buy it!

Across four different districts of a city that has torn itself to shreds, four different interweaving tales (each written by a different author) play out. In “Four Corners,” a morally dubious banker must keep his employer happy at any cost. The next story, “Punhos Sagrados,” concerns a boxer who finds himself torn between honor and the woman he loves. “Golden Geese” follows a hardened criminal with a terrifying condition who must come to terms with the life he’s led. Finally, “Jamais Vu” provides a stunning denouement as a man searches endless for his missing daughter, a task which is complicated by a peculiar condition: his inability to recognize faces. Told in rugged, bare-knuckled prose, The Soul Standard is a nonstop thrill-ride down the darkened avenues and through the shadowed alleys of a nightmare town.

Your Inspiration

Ok, so National Poetry Month and Prince's death were LAST month, but let's just say the demise of the Purple One is a wound that still bleeds. Because we here at LitReactor have no qualms about jumping on bandwagons, let's have a Prince-themed Flash Fiction Contest.

I'm inspired by a Slate article that I read a day after his death by Katy Waldman that reminds us how Prince's assuredly sexy song lyrics are also insanely surreal and sensual and synaesthetic and other s-words. Read her analysis here: The Surreal, Dionysian Poetry of Prince’s Lyrics

Here's an excerpt from her column to uh, wet, your whistle:

Rolling Stone described the Purple One’s aesthetic as “sensual anarchy,” a phrase that helps capture the intoxicating drive of his poetry. (What if not poetry would you call these lines from “Raspberry Beret”: “Now, overcast days never turned me on/ But something about the clouds and her mixed.”) Prince told us to move and dance and fuck our way to utopia, to grind “until the castle started spinning/ or maybe it was just my brain.”

So, let's take our cues from the late Mr. Nelson and write some sexy, surrealist flash fiction. Now take off those pants and get going!


Ok, so apparently everyone is too sad about Prince to write sexy poetry because you guys made my job easy by only making me choose between a few (albeit very GOOD) entries!!!

And the Winner Is...Grant Williams

With his childhood-ruining entry:

All Grown Up in the Hundred Acre Wood

The honey dribbled down her belly.

"Piglet are you brave enough to find the pot?"

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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