Are you a student? Are you a manager? Are you a cab driver? Are you a nurse? Are you a homemaker? Are you a husband or a wife or a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Are you divorced? Are you young, middle age or a senior citizen? Are you retired like me?
Excellent. Your life will make for great flash fiction. Try writing flash fiction. The Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette is here to help you do just that. Use the subscription tab at the top of the page to take out a free subscription and have every issue of The Gazette delivered to your inbox.
News: BP Oil Spill Keeps Getting Worse
The coast line from Texas to Louisiana is slowly feeling the impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Media outlets are reporting that scientists are warning that oil plumes, some ten miles long, beneath the surface of the water have entered the loop stream and are headed around the tip of Florida for the East Coast of the United States.
Although BP has inserted a pipe in the head of the oil well that is one mile below the surface of the ocean, at least 200,000 gallons of oil is still spilling into the ocean every day. Scientists are expressing fears that the wetlands of Louisiana may not recover from the devastation of the oil spill for generations to come.
The only sure solution for stopping the oil spill is the drilling of relief wells; but these relief wells will not come online for at least another month. In the meantime the destruction goes on as it spreads over an ever-increasing area of coast lines and ocean.
Building A Short Story
The familiar classic form of a short story is pretty much set in stone. There is the setup, the buildup and the payoff. This is the same form for flash fiction, sudden fiction, short short stories and very short stories.
Or a writer can think of a story as a building. Here are some of the building blocks.
There must be a protagonist. I like to rummage around in my own life and come up with a projection of myself to play this part.
For conflict I pick a situation I have first hand knowledge of. That way I know what I’m writing about.
Locale is either Vietnam or Pittsburgh. Usually it’s Pittsburgh since I was in Vietnam for only a year a long time ago and Pittsburgh has been my home since I was born.
This is how you can build a story one brick at a time.
In The Shadow Of The Cathedral Of Learning
I was back from Vietnam and discharged from the army. I was young and in college. A light snow was falling. It was night and I could see that farther down the avenue the commercial district was all lit up. I was glad I had decided to stay in Pittsburgh to go to school. I wasn’t so happy about joining the fraternity I had joined.
Well this time I wasn’t going to take any more guff from Tom. It didn’t matter that he had been drunk earlier. It didn’t matter that he was my fraternity brother. When he was sober he was too big to mess with, but he was probably still drunk and getting drunker and I could take him. I was well into the commercial district when someone spoke to me. The person was past me and I stopped and turned to see who it was and it was Joyce Lynn Summerton.
She said, “And where are you on your way to in such a huff?”
“To kick some butt!” I didn’t like the anger in my voice. I didn’t like that Joyce could hear the anger, too.
Joyce Lynn Summerton was in my Monday, Wednesday and Friday ten o’clock. I looked at her hair, eyes and mouth. Her complexion had a slight glow from the chill in the air. There was something in her shoulder bag. I shifted my books and notebook to my other hand.
More calmly I said, “You don’t make it to any of our parties anymore.”
“Not like I use to,” she said. “Some of the fraternity brothers get too rowdy for me.”
We stood in silence for a moment. Her gloved right hand came up and squeezed her coat together at her throat even though her muffler must have kept out the chilly air. She smiled at me and then looked away.
“I’m headed back to the dorms to sit in front of the boob tube,” she said. “On a Friday night. Do you believe it? I just made a run for some popcorn to pop.”
I nodded and smiled.
“Well,” she said, “have to slide.”
She turned back to me.
I said, “Do you think I could come up and watch some TV with you?”
“In my room?”
“I’ll go whenever you want me to.”
“Frank, I don’t know.”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“A boyfriend?” She laughed. “No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
There was a display window near us. Several mannequins in swim suits were posing on a sunny beach. Joyce was looking at the display window. She put her gloved hands in the pockets of her coat and then looked at me and said, “I’ll have to sign you in.”
We started walking for the dorms.
“So,” she said, “how’ve you been?”
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