I was terrified of writing short fiction before I decided to give it a shot. As fantasy writers, sometimes comfortably writing books as long—or longer—than 500 printed pages, thinking of cramming a full story into 3 pages is daunting. However, I believe all forms of writing strengthen you as a writer. Flash fiction, especially, makes you par down your words and forces you to get to the core of your story. But just because flash fiction is itty bitty doesn’t mean it can’t have meat. All the basics of good story telling still apply to micro fiction; you still need engaging, lively characters, a big problem, emotional depth, good pacing, and so on.
A Fantasy Flash Fiction
The little girl walked up to the market stall and yelled above the din, “I would like to sell you a shoe, please!”
The old man huffed and stared at the single yellow shoe. “A shoe? Not a pair of shoes?”
“It’s all I have.”
“It’s not enough! Who on earth buys one shoe?” He leaned over the rim of his stall, inspecting her bare feet. “What happened to your other shoe?”
“I sold it, too.”
What idiot buys only one shoe? he thought to himself. “What will you wear to protect your feet?”
“My feet don’t need protecting. I have something important to tell you.”
Sure. Right, he thought. Odd duck, this one was. “Why would you sell your shoes?”
“Because I have nothing else left to convince you with.”
“Convince me of what?”
“That I am the love of your life.”
He barked a laugh. Cute kid. “Do you need money?”
The little girl raised a dark brow. “Who said anything about money? I’m talking about true love, here.”
Huh. Must be bashful talking about needing money. “What do you need the money for so badly?”
“Who says I need money?”
“One would assume you are in dire need of money, m’ dear. Otherwise, who would sell one’s footwear?”
“I told you,” she said simply. “I’m here to convince you I’m your one true love.”
Whatever. He didn’t have time for this. He glanced up to see several prospective patrons—who would probably buy something instead of trying to sell him garbage—pass over his booth because the little girl and her insufferable yellow shoe were blocking the way. “All right, here, here. Five coppers. Will that get you to go away?”
She eyed the money and pressed her lips together. “Three silvers.”
“Jeez, kid. You’ve got some spunk, I’ll give you that. Four coppers.”
“Wait, no. Dangit!”
He growled as the little girl swiped the silver coin off the counter and skipped away, leaving her shoe behind.
He scowled at it. This is what he’d lost a silver for? It was beat up, with barely any stitching left to hold the sole in place. Obviously well-worn. The leather was wrinkled and some strange, hardened symbol was stamped on the side. A rainbow?
“Ah, there it is.”
He looked up. And blinked. Blinked again.
Was he going insane?
There stood whom he swore was the little girl, only a few years older. Wearing outlandish garb—what bizarre religion was Nike?—she proudly slapped the silver coin, now dull with age, onto his countertop, placed her fists on her hips, and declared, “I am here to buy my shoe, and prove to you I am your one true love.”
He completely ignored the true love part, because nothing about the rest of this situation made any sense. “I—uh—now, wait a minute. Didn’t you just sell me this shoe?”
“You did, less than a minute ago, I wager.”
All right, this day was getting weirder. Maybe his wife had spiked his morning brew. “I… that wasn’t you.”
“It most certainly was.”
Grinning like a cat eyeing a nice tasty canary, she said, “Fine. When you get home today, Harot, I’m going to tell you ‘I told you so.’”
Seriously? “You told me what?”
“That I am your—”
“One true love, I got it, I got it. Whatever. You think that counts as proof? What’s wrong with you!”
He blinked and she was gone, along with her yellow shoe. Spooked, he decided to close up shop for the day and return home. The smell of warm apple pie greeted him as he walked in. “Ika, you won’t believe—”
He stopped in the kitchen and stared. Stared harder, willing it not to be true. “Ika?”
There sat his wife at the kitchen table, knitting a sweater with that Nike symbol on it.
“But—she had that sweater on!”
Ika smiled knowingly. “Who, dear?”
“That cheeky little girl I saw in the market today! The one who sold me a yellow shoe and then bought it back a minute later, only she was older this time! The same girl who kept prattling on about me being her one true love!”
“Ah, you met the younger me—from about three hundred years from now.”
“Wait, what? You’re saying that girl—er, girls—was you?”
“Of course it was me, silly.” She tapped the wristwatch about her wrist. “Don’t you know this watch allows me to travel through time?”
“I thought you were just making that story up,” he grumbled.
She laughed. “You’re so adorable when you’re grumpy, Harot. Anyway, your great-great-great-and-then-some grandson sold it to me. I was thirteen years old. I was in his shop when I spied your picture and fell head over heels in love with you on the spot. It was then I decided I had to go back in time to marry you.”
He thought of how they met. He’d been fishing and she’d literally come out of nowhere, wearing nothing but a nightdress. And the strangest shoes…
His eyes widened. Rushing to the closet, he pulled forth a pair of worn yellow shoes.
His wife smiled as her husband stumbled into the kitchen in awe. “Then,” Harot said, “you really are…”
She walked over to him and kissed him. “Your one true love. Told you so.”
- Think of it like a scene. Scenes are like micro stories—they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The inciting incident will have to be a lot closer to the beginning of the story, if not the start of the story, but it may help to think of your micro story as having three distinct parts. George R. R. Martin does the “story within a scene” tactic quite well.
For more flash fiction tips, see K.D.’s post: 5 Tips for Writing Flash Fiction
K. D. Jones is the epic fantasy pseudonym for young adult author Krystle Jones. Krystle was born and raised in the small, southern town of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Reading and writing have been lifelong passions of hers. In addition to writing, she is passionate about information technology, Etsy, painting, and exercising. She believes you can be whatever you want to be if you’re willing to work hard. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and adopted fur babies.
Learn more about K. D. Jones at kdjonesepicfantasy.com.
Don’t miss another Flash Fiction Friday with K.D. Jones!