Columns > Published on September 30th, 2013

Updated With Winners: LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: September Edition (...and another chance to win Chuck Palahniuk's new book!)

Flash Fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

UPDATE: Since it's only a few days in and we already have 76 (and counting) entries--we've scrounged up two more copies of Chuck  Palahniuk's new book for a total of THREE books to give away to the best three entries! So keep 'em coming!

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 September 27 will be considered. We'll run the winner on September 30.

This Month's Prize

You get a second change to win an Advanced Reading Copy of Chuck Palahniuk's upcoming novel Doomed (which doesn't come out until next month!) It's a follow-up to the popular Damned. Here's a teaser for ya from Amazon.com:

Madison Spencer, the liveliest, snarkiest dead girl in the universe, continues the adventures in the afterlife begun in Damned. Having somewhat reluctantly escaped from Hell, she now wanders the Purgatory that is Earth as a ghostly spirit, seeking her do-gooding celebrity parents, fighting the malign control of Satan, recounting the disgracefully funny (to us, anyway) encounter with her grandfather in a fetid highway rest stop in upstate New York when she . . . oh, never mind, and climaxing in a rendezvous with destiny on the new, totally plastic continent in the Pacific called, not at all accidentally, Madlantis.

Dante Aligheri, watch your back, Chuck Palahniuk is gaining on you.

Your Inspiration

In July, we used a section of Dante's Purgatorio since Doomed is the second book in a trilogy based on Dante's work.

This time, let's use something specifically Chuck-related. In his interview with LitReactor's Kasey Capenter on his book Damned, Palahniuk likens Hell to his experience of staying in a hotel's "author's suite" while touring. Here's a couple quotes from the interview:

When you tour for books, most big luxury hotels now reserve a suite called the author’s suite, because they know that there is this constant tour of authors coming through town. So they put you in this author’s suite, that always has these bookshelves, and um, all the books are all the people who have ever slept in that bed.  So you know, looking at the wall, everybody who has slept in the bed you are about to sleep in.

It’s like having a resume… you don’t want to know that you're sharing a bed with Paula Deen, David Sedaris, John Grisham, Jane Fonda – a whole litany of all the people that have been in that bed, makes me kind of…disgusted. But then I love the dichotomy. Their minds and hearts are on the wall, you know, in these books, but when you pull back this bedding, and see the stains on the mattress and the mattress pad- their bodies are like, there, in a very physical and literal sense…

If Chuck's Hell is an author's suite, what might be Purgatory? Your prompt is to write your own metaphor for Purgatory. Remember 25 words in prose or poetry. Two sentences. Titles are excluded from the word count.

Now Get Writing!


And the Winners are... Heather Boyd, Carole Rossi Kenyon, and Anthony David Lawson.

The number of entries must have broken records—148!!! There were many, many great entries but I had to pick three: So here they are in no particular order:

From Heather Boyd

When

It could be now. It isn't.

From Carole Rossi Kenyon

Have Mercy

Please send money for indulgences to Pope Francis  Stop
60 more years of watching reruns on the golf network before my debt is settled  Stop

From Anthony David Lawson

1992
The most beautiful girl I’ve ever known had given me her number.  My finger hovered over that last button.

Thanks, everyone, for entering!

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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