Columns > Published on November 30th, 2015

UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: 5 Word Story 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

  • 5 words, tops. No more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 1 word.
  • 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 November 27th will be considered. We'll run the winner on November 30th.

This Month's Prize

The winner of this month's contest will get a copy of Emma Donoghue's Frog Music.  

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.

You can also check out LitReactor's review of the book here.

Your Inspiration

Many of you are likely participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I'm only going to ask for 5 words from you this month. And if you're not participating (I'm not), then you get a break! Ok, not really. Because a 5 word story is a lot harder than it seems.

For inspiration, let's look to the 5 senses: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell, and Taste. 5 senses, 5 words. You don't have to include all 5, but serious bonus points if you do. Good luck!


And the Winner is...jyh

A healthy showing, as always, y'all, but JYH takes home the prize for this short 'n' sweet (or, bitter, actually) little number. I can feel the feels with this one. Well done. Now, I wish I had some wine. And a veranda.




"It's over."

Salty sobs.

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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