450-500 Word Stories

How about trying some 450- to 500-word stories. Long flash fiction is still short-short in terms of stories.
(Eric Smith)

118 thoughts on “450-500 Word Stories

  1. Gordon Lawrie

    Sorry, I’m afraid you’re off the mark this time, Len – I’ve no wish to be a “publisher” at all. Definitely not.

    I know I’m not supposed to refer to other websites but rather than bore everyone here a fuller explanation of what we do is available at the Comely Bank Publishing website.

  2. Bobby Warner

    I am a member of several other writers’ groups, and I can say unreservedly that the Friday Flash Fiction crew does one thing most other groups do not do–they write and post their stories, poems, what have you, on a regular daily basis. This is great practice; and even though the level of literary merit might or might not be as high as it could be, we are producing a body of work for others to read and enjoy (hopefully). With other groups I find that discussions are the main reason for being for the clubs, whereas in F.F.F. we have lively discussions PLUS (it is a BIG one) we also feature our fiction outputs as well. I belong to a science fiction writers group which does let us write, but only on one topic each month; i.e., a monthly writing contest, where we vote on the stories and select a winner. In F.F.F., however, I find myself writing something to be posted for the other members to read almost on a daily basis. I can truly say that F.F.F. is a great motivator in keeping me writing!

  3. Gordon Lawrie

    Can I float an idea here (and on two other discussions) and see what people think?

    Today I found a longer story on one of the threads that had been posted a month ago. I think the reason I missed it is that there are actually three separate places where people can post stories that exceed 100 words, whereas everything of 100 or under lands in the same place.

    Would it be possible to direct all the longer stories – whatever the length – to one place from now on? I don’t mind which.

    All thoughts welcome.

  4. Gordon Lawrie

    There are functioning discussions called “Too Long for 100, Too Short for 250” and “Longer Stories”. As if to demonstrate my point, there’s been acknowledgement on each of the three places where I posted!

  5. Consequences, by Eric J. Smith

    On the way to the party, Scott gave June the silent treatment. That was okay since it gave her time to think. She wasn’t positive what Scott was mad about, but she thought it had something to do how she kept going out with a couple of other guys she still liked—guys on the wrestling team. And they’d both be at the party. She tried to explain it to Scott, but nothing seemed to satisfy him. She was beginning to think he might be more trouble than he was worth. This was about the only thing her mother was right about—eighteen was too young to settle down.

    “I could be on the wrestling team, too, you know. I can beat the shit out of both those guys. Matter of fact, I’ve done it before. It’s just that I have to work.”

    “Look, this doesn’t have anything to do with wrestling or who’s tough.”

    “Sure, right.”

    When they arrived at the party there were already fifteen or twenty cars and trucks parked at crazy angles on the gravel, down the driveway, and around the corner out at the curb. Scott braked to a stop but made no effort to pull in or park.

    “So, what’s up?”

    “I changed my mind. Why don’t you go by yourself, have a really great time, and get a ride home with one of your buddies.”

    June gave him what he wanted. She jumped out of his truck and started running into the trailer park. Within a half hour she was on her third beer and not long after she’d put away a six pack. After that things changed. She was mixing in the middle of a crowd talking to some people, mostly guys—some she knew and some not. She had no idea what she was talking about. Then she started drinking wine coolers and the room began spinning; she fell to her knees and then onto her back. Some guy picked her up by her armpits; some others carried her by her boots.

    Things were dark as she lay on a bed, and she was sure she was going to throw up. That’s all she remembered. When she woke up the house was quiet and her head throbbed. She could barely make out what seemed like morning light coming in through a torn curtain in the small bedroom. She noticed her blouse was torn and her bra was gone; her jeans and panties were pulled down over her boots, which were still on.

    After a few minutes she’d gotten dressed as best she could, staggered into the kitchen, and then outside. All the vehicles were gone.

  6. Rage, by Eric J. Smith

    Bob hadn’t bought his wife an engagement ring. He told himself they couldn’t afford it; more likely he was just lazy and inconsiderate. The previous week he’d lost his temper at work and begun fighting with a co-worker. Unfortunately, the fight turned physical. Several witnesses testified it was Bob’s fault. The guy was left-handed so Bob ended up with a pretty bad shiner around his right eye. While getting chewed out by the boss, Bob lost his temper again and as a result lost his job. So, no, he didn’t have a lot of money, but he felt his wife should have the ring nonetheless. He felt comforted, redeemed perhaps, that he was about to go into debt to do something selfless for his bride.

    After two years of marriage, he went to a jewelry store on a black, cold winter night. The store stood off by itself away from the shopping center. When he entered he noticed the place was empty except for the clerk and the smallest rent-a-cop he’d ever seen—the little lady, dressed in blue, had a cocked billed hat, and what appeared to be a .38 caliber in a holster. She was slight—not much to her. Bob thought she might go 4’10” and less than a hundred, though it was hard to tell since she was sitting down in a corner. The clerk wasn’t Bob’s kind of guy. He had blond hair and a close-cropped beard; he wore a silk tie, pressed pants, and those tassel loafers Bob hated.

    The guy did seem eager to wait on him, though. Bob said he wanted an engagement ring—a simple band—with three emerald or sapphire chips embedded in it. He couldn’t believe it. The clerk pulled out a ring that looked like what he wanted.

    “What’s her size?”

    “I don’t know. Just a little smaller than mine. If it fits me it will probably fit her except we might need an alteration.”

    Bob forced the ring on his finger. Then he realized it was stuck.

    “Oh, man. It’s stuck on my finger.”

    In his peripheral vision he noticed the little cop quickly moving toward him.

    She stood next to him at the counter, the top of her hat not reaching his shoulder. “I’ll shoot it off for you.” She was sneering. Bob turned red, began breathing heavily, and thought about reaching for her weapon.

    “We find dishwashing liquid usually works best,” the clerk said calmly. The rent-a-cop walked away.

    After the clerk worked the ring off his finger, Bob relaxed but stared over at the tiny cop, who was sitting down again. Bob decided to charge the ring and take it home to see if his wife liked it. But he was still mad; the rent-a-cop had gotten under his skin. He couldn’t stop thinking about her.

    Bob asked the clerk what their hours were. Hearing they’d close in an hour, he went outside and sat in his car in the dark, waiting.

  7. Russell Conover

    Gordon: Personally, I find it helpful to have longer stories separated by their specific lengths, so that I can better keep track of what’s been posted, and by whom. Of course, since I always seem to be so behind reading on L.I., and posting to WordPress, I can’t really be one to speak. Just my two cents’ worth …

  8. Gordon Lawrie

    Fair enough, Russell, but I’m a bit confused by what those length categories actually are – this is “Long Flash Fiction”, there’s also a “Longer Flash Fiction”, and I’m not sure what the difference is. They’re used pretty interchangeably as far as I can see. And there’s also Marilyn’s one for stories between 100 and 250 words but I think most people forget about it. By all means categorise by length, but if so then I think the expected lengths for each thread need to be spelled out a bit more clearly. But that’s just my tuppence’ worth.

    Of course I was just floating an idea, and if everyone’s happy, then fine. Either way, I’ll just carry on posting all the 101-500 word stories together on the website the way I’ve always done.

  9. Gordon Lawrie

    By the way, this new L.I. layout is REALLY bad for reading stories of any length at all. Does anyone know if it’s possible to change the settings so that the postings default to show in their entirety?

  10. Ann-Louise Truschel

    It seems that L.I. has caught the F.B. disease. F.B. feels it must update simply for the sake of updating. Then it ignores all the endless complaints that stem. Once the complaints finally die out, rather than learning from its mistakes, F.B. updates again. I guess the powers that be must have a masochistic streak.

  11. First Child’s Father, by Eric Smith

    June’s first child, Rusty, had no father—at least no father she knew—more precisely, no father she could identify. She sometimes thought of the father as an artificial insemination donor, only he wasn’t. He was one of several serial rapists. She never knew how many. As many as twelve young men claimed to have participated in the gang rape that resulted in her impregnation. None of them ever claimed this to her face; it got around through gossip, and she wrote each name in her diary as she heard it to maintain control and order within her life. She also thought she might someday discover the father’s identity.

    Then again, since she was unconscious during the sex that night, it’s possible they were all lying and a single person, someone other than those who claimed to have pulled the train, might have been the father. She never knew. She also considered that the gang rape meant nothing, that she only had sex with a single person that night since the others were superfluous–first in terms of her pregnancy and then the motherhood that continued for so many years.

    Thereafter, though, whenever she began a physical relationship with a new man, she tried to control it by marking the change in her life. She accomplished this by switching her brand of cigarette whenever she changed sex partners. In this way, she felt she could keep track of the total number of lovers she’d had, monitor how long her liaisons lasted, and impose some design on her love life by choosing a brand of cigarette that corresponded or related in some way to the new man’s personality or the way he changed her life or made her feel. More often than not, the relationship between the branding and each new man’s personality expressed itself in the cigarette’s packaging, the way it was marketed, and its target audience.

    ​She’d laugh inwardly when a current boyfriend, if he was a smoker, bummed one from her. When she was feeling cynical, particularly in the morning just after she awoke, she regarded the man lying next to her as nothing more than another brand of cigarette.

  12. Eric J. Smith

    It appears L.I. is giving us a maximum number of characters–maybe a thousand or so. Whether this is for the short-term or from now on is anybody’s bet. I placed the entire story–365 words–on Gordon’s blog.

  13. Bobby Warner

    Thanks for the info, Eric. I’ll check it A.S.A.P. If I can, that is. My I.S.P. is really goofing up lately, so am seriously considering changing to another, hopefully RELIABLE one. Between LinkedIn cutting off some of my posts and my I.S.P. fading in and out, I’m growing somewhat disillusioned with the whole thing. Guess it’s just one of those days … !

  14. Russell Conover

    Going back to the multiple “Long story” threads here in F.F.F.:

    I, too, become confused on the purpose of each. I just visited the three again, and saw in the blurbs under the thread titles that they each have specific length requirements/suggestions:

    Long Flash Fiction (Vol. I & II): 450-500 words
    Longer Flash Fiction: 250 words
    Too Long for 100, Too Short for 250: 100-250 words

    As a suggestion, maybe the thread creators could go back and rename the discussions according to length (as I’ve done on WordPress, at https://fridayflashfiction.wordpress.com/)? The different lengths help me categorize stories, though the names can indeed be confusing. I’m open for feedback on this item, as always …

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