in Flash fiction, News

BristolCon 2016 – and some flash fiction

BristolCon 2016 is done and dusted. There were some interesting panels on the day. I took part in Call Me Rosetta – a discussion on the potential of alien contact, how we would handle it, and what we might do in the event of a second contact situation.

I sat in on Beyond Evil, where the panelists discussed what makes and motivates a good villain. By good villain I mean a convincing one, not some strange sort of oxymoron.

I also went to Uncanny Valleys of the Mind, where the panelists talked about artificial intellience – what makes something artificially intelligent, what issues might arise if true artificial intelligence arises, and how can we control it? A perfect companion to the “How to build a human” programme that appeared later that evening on Channel 4 and touched on similar issues.

Later in the day I took part in the In a Flash workshop with Kevlin Henney. After covering what makes a story – and in particular what differentiates flash fiction from poetry – we were presented with blank cards upon which to write along with a few writing prompts. The first was the picture below: Flock, Denise Nestor Illustrations



We were given a couple of minutes to fill our card. Using the above prompt I wrote:

The Wire

I landed on the wire as I usually do every morning. My neighbours sung their usual songs, flirting with the girls as they flew past.

I noticed that David wasn’t next to me in his regular spot, so I asked someone next to me why that was.

“He was here earlier,” he replied, preening himself, “but he disappeared without a word.”

I ruffled my feathers in response and looked down. At that moment I spied Dave’s inert form gazing up at me. “It’s Dave!” I said.

The bird next to me shifted, startled by my outburst, and went stiff. An instant later he fell to the ground, landing atop poor Dave.

The spot on the wire where he stood smouldered.

(Not physics-accurate)


Our second exercise was to be presented with a plush toy squid, Aloysius. We were to write a single sentence story:

Flapping on the shore, he reached out as far as he could, gasping – so many arms and nowhere to go!

Then we turned the card over and were told to write several short sentences of no more than five words each, representing the scenario in the previous, longer, sentence:

I can’t reach.
What should I do?
I can’t breathe.
My limbs fail me.
My soft body grows weak.

Finally, we were to combine our previous attempts in a “Final edit” to see where it led:


My tentacles unfurl. I can’t reach.

“The pathetic thing on the beach, see how it’s uncoiling?”

What should I do? My limbs fail me. My soft body grows weak.

“So many arms and nowhere to go. Kick it back into the sea.”

Water covers me again, saved by a god.


Later in the afternoon I attended a workshop titled Stage Managed Fighting, hosted by Dev Agarwal and Dolly Garland, and learnt a few things about what styles of combat (and violence) say about characters in a way that other parts of narrative cannot.