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FLASH FICTION WORKSHOP – Wednesday 15th March 2023

Dribbles, Drabbles and Flashes

Within a few weeks of joining AWC, I was asked to write a blog of the evening’s events. If my memory serves me correctly, I think the request came from Nigel, friendly but persuasive. Seen The Godfather? I was too scared to say no.

When I joined the committee, I became a blog bagger. I think that it was my term. I needed to find a role. Sounds easy? You must be joking. Then as joint chair of the club, I stepped back – too much else to do. Too big to blog bag, you might say. Then as an ex-chair, I felt like a blog dodger. I read them with admiration. The standard has become so high that there ought to be a prize for the best one each year. Now there is an idea. . .

So, there I was on Wednesday night, my first blog for a few years. Thomas Malloch, club stalwart and keen exponent of all short forms of fiction, with ‘Dribbles, Drabbles and Flashes’. The best news of the evening was when he said, ‘I will hand out a Work Sheet. There’s no need to make notes.’ It was like being back at school.

He defined a Dribble (a fifty-word story), a Drabble (a hundred words) and a Flash (usually assumed to be under one thousand words). We considered examples, including one from his ten-year old granddaughter. The skill runs in the family. We dissected the anatomy of one particular Dribble. Thomas invited us to note that stories in the present tense and in the first person tend to win more prizes.

There is a famous six-word story from Ernest Hemingway, renowned for his simple and direct writing style. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn”. The skill is to leave the reader with more to think about once the story has finished. Thomas provided further examples and revealed the secrets of creating an effective piece.

As with most workshops, there was a gentle but effective task for all the participants on the night. In pairs, with someone we did not know particularly well, we were invited to tell each other a short anecdote from a holiday and then, after the coffee break, write the story down that we had been told. An interesting exercise. There was no pressure to read them out. To cap the evening, Thomas offered a ten-pound prize for the best one sent to him.

A friendly and informative evening from a very knowledgeable club member. Nigel’s vote of thanks concluded with news that our Flash Fiction Competition (closing date 5th April) has a theme – “crowns”. Now, there is a royal challenge.

A final tip from Thomas. Think of your first five ideas. . . then dispose of them. They will be the same as everyone else’s. I’m struggling to find three. Who chose that theme?

Chris Palmer



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