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Many Types and Styles of Flash Fiction

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on Pexels.com

   Keeley Duffy 

Stories can be written in all kinds of ways. However, many people might think of longer pieces, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter or Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight novels. But what about flash fiction?   

Flash fiction, which has become especially popular in the last twenty years or so, is a genre of fiction writing consisting of very short stories that are no longer than 1000 words. In Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, David Galef not only writes about the many different kinds of flash fiction, but he also provides examples by a wide variety of writers. Here are just a few examples of some types of flash fiction stories, and what Galef advises fellow writers to do when creating them:  

Vignette: A short piece that uses imagery to describe a subject in greater detail. Galef suggests that writers “dramatize the writing, do more with fewer words, to go for evocative, concrete details, and to make your piece mean more than what it seems on the surface.”   

Fable: A short narrative that exemplifies a moral or principle of human behavior. Galef mentions that fables should “emphasize simple character traits rather than complex psychology, a quick unfolding of events instead of a suspenseful tale.”  

There are other kinds of flash fiction that only have one rule, and that’s the word count. Here are a few that Galef does not mention:  

Drabble – A 100-word story  

Hint Fiction – A 25-word (or less) story 

Fiction Fragments – A one-sentence story   

The shorter you go with your stories, the more difficult they become. Writers must carefully decide what details to keep and what to take out. It is a difficult, exciting challenge to see how few words you can use to tell an exciting story.   

If you’re interested in learning about how to write flash fiction, check out Galef’s Brevity: https://www.amazon.com/Brevity-Fiction-Handbook-David-Galef/dp/0231179693/ref=sr_1_2?crid=L4QS0OGGRUMG&keywords=brevity+a+flash+fiction+handbook&qid=1643917355&sprefix=brevity+a+flash+fiction+handb%2Caps%2C572&sr=8-2  

Happy Black History Month!

By Ciana Bowers

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In honor of Black History month, I decided to share this poem from the author Langston Hughes titled I, too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

You can find this poem on the poetry foundation and also find many more amazing Black poets on their website

Poetry Foundation Website

Getting a Job with an English Degree 

By Gabby Norris

Most commonly, when someone learns that you are earning your degree in English, or have already earned your degree in English, they assume that you are either aiming to be the next James Patterson or a teacher. Sometimes this is actually the case, but not in every situation! If you are working towards an English degree, a degree in a similar field, or have already completed your degree, I would like to bring up the copywriting and copy editing fields for you to consider! If you are not already familiar with these careers, copywriters typically work closely with businesses or ad agencies to produce thoughtful and intriguing slogans, campaigns, and sometimes even emails to be sent out by the company. Copy editors can work with most any type of business, with their main focus being editing pre existing work to ensure that it is polished and ready to be consumed by a large scale audience. If either of these career fields pique your interest and you would like to browse open jobs in the aforementioned fields, consider opening the links listed below. Happy job hunting and best of luck! 

https://www.themuse.com/search/keyword/copywriter/

https://www.themuse.com/search/keyword/copy%20editor/

Be Sure to Check Submission Guidelines

By Stefan Cozza

It’s that time of the year again and submissions are flooding in! Students from all over the globe are sending in their creative pieces hoping for a chance to highlight their work. As the Blue Route’s mailbox starts bulking up, I wanted to take a brief chance to remind our readers of our guidelines. While we appreciate every single piece we receive, due to high number of submissions and hectic schedules, it does seem some contributors have blurred the lines of what the Blue Route accepts. As a reminder, if you are submitting poetry, you may have a total of 3 and no more! If you are submitting a prose piece, please make sure the maximum word count does NOT exceed 3000 words. The Blue Route loves to see the enthusiasm from so many different writers, but without adhering to our guidelines, it does hinder the publication’s ability to read and accurately judge every piece. When you can, please take a look over our guidelines; it means a lot. Happy contributing!

Open for Submissions

The Blue Route is open for submissions for the spring issue. Please see the Submission Guidelines page for more information. The deadline for submissions is March 15.

Issue 26 is Live!

Image by Mary-Rose Keane

It’s that time of the year, and I’m not talking about the holidays. The Blue Route’s Fall 2021 Issue is now live! On behalf of myself and the whole staff, thank you to every incredible submission we received throughout the semester; we had so many engaging conversations regarding everything we read, and we wished we could have taken more work.

This time of the year can be chaotic, and we all easily get swept up in what’s going on around us. Literature provides that sweet escape, even if it is only for a brief moment, and that’s our intention for the work we publish.

We are beyond grateful for the eight pieces of creative fiction and poetry in Issue 26. The   vulnerability and poignancy these authors displayed in their writing are amazing, and we hope you take time out of your hectic schedule to read their beautiful work!

Interview with Widener University’s Visiting Writer Sherrie Flick!

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This semester the English and Creative Writing department of Widener University got the opportunity to meet flash fiction writer Sherrie Flick. Editor of the Blue Route Stefan Cozza had the chance to interview her about her craft and works from one of her flash fiction collections~ Ciana Bowers

Interview with Sherrie Flick conducted by Stefan Cozza:

1.) For many, flash fiction is an intimidating genre to tackle. You have many in “Thank your Lucky Stars,” but there are also non-flash pieces of short fiction. What is the process going into writing a piece like “Open and Shut,” versus “Home,” and “Trees.” I am personally fascinated with how much can be said with as few words as possible. I love your narrative heavy pieces, but in a way, your short pieces evoke this mood and tone that I cannot shake. How do you differentiate whether a particular spot in the collection is better suited for a story with a clearer trajectory like “Lenny the Suit Man” versus a “7:23 p.m?”

a. “Open and Shut took years to draft, and it goes all the way back to 1997. It was consistently worked on, complicated, and layered with different characters. These stories drafted through exercises, constraints to write in small spaces be evocative with space and image. A lot of these micro pieces are crafted like a still life and they usually require less revision.

2.) This is very much in a similar vein to my previous question, but I find it relevant and intriguing, nonetheless. You have a few composite flashes in this collection, my personal favorite being “Garden Inside.” What makes a narrative suitable for this experimental form? How do you choose which specific scenes to depict that will add to the overall tone and trajectory?

a. Each section is its own contained story. You get a story putting them together, but each piece has the power to stand alone. They were originally written as part of a collaborative exhibition with the photographer Sue Abramson and displayed as text panels on the gallery walls. They were written with a slightly different purpose than flash fiction. My end goal is not always to connect the pieces. For “Garden Inside,”

I was heavily motivated by Abramson’s visual art and was challenged to put words to photographs.

b. Also, there was a revelation that came with learning about chapter breaks while writing my novel and the possibilities they offer. One minute you’re in one place and you turn the page, and the next you’re somewhere completely different. Transitional phrases are not as necessary in composite flashes. I treat the section breaks as punctuation.

Conflict, conflict, and more conflict

By Ciana Bowers

I’ve written about the writers helping writers series before, Their collection of thesaurus help fiction writers and screenwriters Show not tell and help create rich stories and characters. Last month on October 12th their new thesaurus came out, The conflict thesaurus, any conflict you can think of is sure in this book, and if it’s not don’t worry volume two comes out next year in 2022. I enjoy having this book as it gives me many conflicts to choose from when going to write a quick story. This book not only gives you conflicts but possible outcomes, character emotions, and ways to develop characters through this conflict. I recommend this book as it also gives you several tips, tricks, and advice on conflict and worksheets to help with your stories.

Celebrating 200 Years of Widener

By Stefan Cozza

This past weekend, the English and Creative Writing Department held their homecoming open mic, along with manning a tent at the homecoming tailgate. From 11-2 on Saturday, faculty from the English and Creative Writing departments, along with a few students, promoted the program through the use of interactive writing prompts. Alumni and community members sat down for a few minutes, picked a notecard with a particular prompt, and wrote whatever came to their heads. Later that evening, the department held their usual homecoming open mic. Since the pandemic, the open mics have been virtual, but that hasn’t stopped them from being engaging and fun events. To start the event, everyone was given a few writing prompts, similar to the ones earlier in the day, and allowed a few minutes to generate some writing. Some participants even read what they came up with. Students, along with alumni read some of their work, whether it be poetry or short fiction and got enthusiastic feedback from the audience. The event lasted well over an hour and the energy carried throughout. Despite being virtual, the success of another open mic in this format just proves the communal power of writing.

An Evening of Early Autumn Laughs, Whistles, Cheers 

By Shpresa Ymeraj

I immersed into the light afternoon traffic Sunday, September 19th, ready to be absorbed by the serene woods of Widener’s Taylor Arboretum, where Lovers and Madmen: the adaptation of Shakespeare’s Visions of a Midsummer Night’s Dream played; A production of Widener’s Lone Brick Theatre & Forgotten Lore Theatre, as part of 2021 Philly Fringe Festival. Once there, an “air spirit” led me to the scene. The sun beaming through the opening trees spot-lit Theseus, the Duke of Athens. Possessing his future bride from under her arms and knees, he upheld her, spinning for the round spectator view.

The young lovers chased and danced with one another, coming and going through the narrow paths between the woods. Swiftly I am pulled in to scene by the play producer and director himself, Peter Quince, filling in for Snug, the lion. Surprised, I may have tried to roar. The audience led by Fairies into different scenes, thus experiencing separate ongoing parts of the play, moving through the enchanted woods, often burst into laughs when the “ghostly” presence of Hermia running after Lysander and Helena after Demetrius and Demetrius after Hermia cut through the scenes with beaming screams: “Demetriuuuus!”, “Lysandeeeer!”,”Helenaaaa!”.   

While woodland, Victorian, and contemporary costumes composed a lovely theme, the play within the play Peter Quince led followed a similar pattern. For example, between script and under-toned “out of script” remarks, about Theseus, in the closing scene directed to the audience: “What is wrong with this guy?” Quince’s character brought the contemporary spectator in, sparking a comedic blast throughout the play.  

Nick Bottom steals the show ending with his passion-full interpretation and the tragically funny self-inflicted death, as Theseus dressed in a dark business suit *lols the play, within the play. The spectators love it! They laugh and whistle, filling the air with cheers. Fully immersed in the new Midsummer Night’s world, I applaud the amazing actors and producers of this memorable play, compete with colorful vibrations the leaves changing over a well-hidden water stream where perhaps Shakespeare’s spirit currents through Tayler Arboretum.