Thu 28 Apr 2011
A. S. Andrews won First Place in the String-of-10 THREE Flash Fiction Contest sponsored in February 2011 by Flash Fiction Chronicles. The contest challenge was to use four out of ten prompt words in a 250 or fewer word story. Those words were: DUST-SUSPECT-VIRGIN-COOL THINGS-CRACKLING-UNWRITTEN-FEEDER-QUARREL-DOGGED-JAM. An aphorism was provided for inspiration, but not necessarily to be used in the story. Here is the one for this contest: A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. –Mohandas Gandhi
To find out more about the contest, go to String-of-10 THREE Winners.
A. S. Andrews‘ winning story, “Pretending” will be published at Every Day Fiction on Friday, April 29. Read her interview below by Michelle Reale; read “Pretending” tomorrow.
Interview with First Place Winner A. S. Andrews
By Michelle Reale
Flash Fiction Chronicles: Tell us a bit about the evolution of this piece.
Anna S. Andrews: When I looked at the string of words, I made a list of the first things that came to mind. One of them was the phrase “feeder fish.” That got me thinking about all the goldfish I had as a kid, and how, at the time, I had
no idea they were sold to be eaten by bigger fish! Then I thought what if a person ate one? And the story took off from there.
FFC: How does writing to a prompt differ from generating a story from your own idea?
ASA: I don’t know that it differs all that much. A lot of my ideas are prompted by things I see in everyday life, often images that stick for some reason or other. A prompt provides another source of images, and from the images come the ideas.
FFC: What challenges does the compression in these small pieces create for you, the writer? For the reader?
ASA: As a writer, the challenge is to create movement and depth, to bring the story to life. You want to give the characters life and history and texture, all in a tiny space. As a reader, you have to have an open mind, and be willing to imagine the possibilities, because there is only so much a writer can give you in a small piece!
FFC: All of the winning stories left me wanting more, in part, because all of them had amped-up imagery which kept me engaged. Take one of the images from your story and tell me how it came about
ASA: Let’s see, how about Darryl as a grizzly bear. Once I’d decided to have Darryl eat the fish, I wanted to make it realistic. I’d just been to the zoo, and I have young children who love to pretend at snack time, so I thought, why not have them play zoo animals and Darryl takes it too far? So I made Darryl a grizzly bear, since they’re big and fierce, and also eat fish.
FFC: Tell me about averages per story:
- average time to write a story
- average number of words
- average number of re-writes
- average number of people you share it with for feedback
- average number of places you submit one piece at a time
ASA: My average time to write a story varies with the word count. I write everything from twitter fiction to poetry to novels. For flash fiction, I generally write the first draft in a day, and my average number of words is 600 – 700, unless I’m writing for something in particular with a shorter length (twitter, for example, or this contest!).
I do a lot of re-writes. 12 on average, but sometimes more. Not all of these are full-blown re-writes. Sometimes a sentence or a paragraph or two just doesn’t sound right, so I’ll play with it, set it aside, play with it some more, set it aside, read it again, over and over until I like it.
I don’t usually get feedback on my shorter fiction before I send it out, and so far, I’ve only submitted to one place at a time.
FFC: Which writers inspire you the most?
ASA: I read so many different things it’s hard to choose! Writers I’ve been reading for years, like Stephen King, John Updike, and Douglas Coupland. Success stories like J. K. Rowling, and, don’t hate me here, Stephenie Meyers. But every day, I’m inspired by writers whose stories pull me in and make me feel or make me think. Also, by writers who keep going. All the people who sign up for challenges like NaNoWriMo, and keep writing! The folks doing Write1Sub1 this year. The folks I’ve met over the years that are slowly but surely getting their work out there and published.
FFC: Which book have you read that you wished you wrote?
ASA: Wrote word for word? None. I’ve never quite thought of it that way! But one of the earliest books I remember reading that really made me stop and say, wow, I want to write a book like that, was “A Wrinkle in Time.”
FFC: Make a 30 word “story” with the following words:
- cough drop
- hair band
ASA: Daisy’s hair band hurts. She yanks it out, sucks her cough drop, wipes her brow with a rag. Notices her Dalmation eating cheese. Slams the ball. “Match point, you bastard!”
FFC: Have the last word: Give us your thoughts on being one of the winners—and again, congratulations!
ASA: Well, really, it feels great to have won! Very exciting! Thank you! And a big congratulations to all the other winners!
A. S. Andrews enjoys writing short fiction. She lives in the Los Angeles foothills, but you can find her online at http://asandrews.com.