Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the twentieth piece in this series. This week’s story is a 100-worder entitled ‘The Red-Haired Girl’ by Smoky Zeidel.
The Red-Haired Girl
You climb on the back of the enormous black horse, his rear-end looks like an ebony drum. He’s skittish, finding your seat is difficult. Your long red hair glimmers in the sun, his black mane in stark contrast. The camera and I are one, as are you and the horse. I start shooting until, exhausted, I race into town; I cannot wait to see the photos. The printer tells me all the pictures are of an elderly, white-haired lady on a dappled grey. But I see my red-haired girl as she once was, sitting on the back of a horse.
I asked Smoky what prompted this piece and she said…
I used to teach fiction writing workshops at my local community college, and one of my favorite writing exercises was to have my students write a short story in exactly 100 words. Not 99, not 101–100 words exactly. I got some of my best stories out of my students with this exercise!
One semester, my students insisted I write one, too. I asked the class to give me an animal, a color, and an electronic device. They shouted out all sorts of suggestions, but I chose the first I heard, which ended up being horse, red, and camera. These three words, then, had to be used in the story. I gave them twenty minutes to write their stories.
This exercise taught students the value of each word used in a story. It taught them to write tight stories, and how to edit out the superfluous. It remains, to this day, my favorite writing exercise.
Thank you Smoky. I loved it, especially being so short, and second person viewpoint, my favourite. It’s an exercise that we do on a Monday night except we have five keywords (I’m mean) and a 60, 100 or 150 limit gets brownie points.
Smoky Trudeau Zeidel is the author of two novels, On the Choptank Shores and The Cabin; a recently-released collection of stories, Short Story Collection Vol. 1; and two nonfiction books on writing which have recently been combined into one book, Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set. She is the author of Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of prose, poetry, and photographs celebrating the natural world. All her books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing.
Smoky lives in California with her husband Scott (a college music professor and classical guitarist), her daughter (a college student and actress), and a menagerie of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking in the mountains and deserts, splashing in tide pools, and resisting the urge to speak in haiku.
If you’d like to submit your 1,000-word max. stories for consideration for Flash Fiction Friday take a look here.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with murder mystery author Jean Harrington – the two hundred and sixty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.