The Perfect Cover | Microfiction

The goods were delivered to us in shoeboxes.

It was the perfect cover; the filth couldn’t give a damn about shoes. They noted the boxes piled high on the back of the boats, observed the display of stilettos in our shop window, and rolled their eyes at the vanity of women. Continue reading “The Perfect Cover | Microfiction”

Longest Day | Microfiction

The title screen rolls while Netflix queues up another recommended show.

“I can’t take another,” Fran mutters as she drags her fingers down her face, pulling her features down into a grotesque grimace.

“But the day isn’t over,” Lisa replies with a sigh. Continue reading “Longest Day | Microfiction”

4 Rules for Writing Fiction You Can Ignore

You think you know how to write fiction? You probably don’t. Not unless you follow these four cardinal writing rules.

Remember: some highly successful writers break these rules and still write great stuff. But you are not one of them. It is not possible to break these rules and write great stuff unless you are already a successful writer. Got it? Good.

1. Show, don’t tell

You’re telling me a story, right? Wrong. You need to show me the story. You don’t need a pen and paper or a keyboard — you need a stage. Perform for me, monkey.

You could act out the story, mime it, or come up with a contemporary dance routine. Whatever you do, don’t you dare tell me what happens, because that’s bad writing. It’s boring. What readers really want is a series of ideas which they can interpret in a million and one different ways without fully understanding what your story is all about. Do you understand? Of course you don’t. That’s exactly my point.

Now, there is a very subtle difference between showing and telling when writing fiction, and I’m afraid I can’t share with you what that difference is. Why? Because I have no idea myself. Nobody does. All I know is that “show, don’t tell” is the most repeated mantra known to fiction writers the world over, and we must abide.

2. Never carry dialogue with anything other than “said”

You don’t want your writing to become too pretentious, right? In that case, don’t even think about using anything other than “said” when you’re telling — sorry, showing — us how your characters interact.

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Shy Styles | Flash Fiction

The queue for Shy Styles snakes right around the block. The men and women patiently waiting in line are all completely silent. Some listen to music through ear buds or headphones. Others tap idly at phone screens and tablets. A few are reading books, while more still simply gaze about them, taking in the cars and people that pass them by.

The same goes for the lucky customers who are at the very front of the queue and able to find seats inside the salon’s foyer. None of them say a word. The only sound is that of a lone hairdryer, which the hairstylist wields expertly as she finishes off a sleek cut and blow dry. Continue reading “Shy Styles | Flash Fiction”

Face Your Fear | Flash Fiction

“The best way to overcome fear is to face it head on.”

Pete gazed across Trafalgar Square and felt his heart pound. He turned to his life coach and shook his head. “I can’t.”

“You can, Pete. And you will,” she said with a confident smile. “Look.”

She produced a paper bag from her pocket and showed Pete the contents.

He frowned. “Isn’t this illegal?” Continue reading “Face Your Fear | Flash Fiction”

A Single Swallow | Horatio Clare

I’ve got a hell of a lot of unread non-fiction books languishing on my shelves and lest they find themselves destined for the charity shop, I need to get stuck into them. I started with A Single Swallow, which is a mishmash of nature writing, travel writing, and history, with a touch of autobiography along the way.

Horatio Clare documents his travels as he follows the annual migration of swallows from South Africa to Wales. He journeys across Africa and up into Europe, finding himself making plenty of friends and losing an awful lot of money – and a touch of sanity – along the way. Continue reading “A Single Swallow | Horatio Clare”

Company | Microfiction

The bird turned up at 7.35pm sharp, every single day since her grandmother had died. It perched on the window ledge, gazing through the glass at her with inquisitive eyes as she washed the dishes.

Perhaps it just wanted some company, she thought. She didn’t mind that; she could use some company herself. Her evenings had been quiet since she stopped getting her grandmother’s daily calls. Continue reading “Company | Microfiction”

Off to Sea | Microfiction

The undulating swell of the sea had always put her mind at ease whenever she looked out across the coast. She’d think how peaceful it must be to be rocked by the waves and carried by the tides. How indulgent it must be to stretch out her arms and allow the water to take her wherever it wished. Continue reading “Off to Sea | Microfiction”

The Man Who Could Never Finish | Flash Fiction

The groom pours stale coffee into a cup, leaving a half an inch of the black liquid in the bottom of the percolator. He brings the cup to his dry lips and takes a long swig to relieve the cotton wool sensation that plagues his tongue.

He needs distraction. He retrieves his phone from his trouser pocket and taps at the screen to access his documents. He skims over the latest draft of an article he’s been battling with for weeks. It’s good. It’s almost perfect. He just can’t seem to find the right words to conclude it.

And he probably won’t be able to find them now as the nerves swirl in his stomach. He takes another sip of coffee and reaches into the inside pocket of his suit, pulling out a cigarette and a lighter.

She’ll turn up her nose when she catches the whiff of stale fag on his breath. He told her he’d quit. She doesn’t know that he never managed to kick that first and only smoke of the day.

When the nicotine has delivered a surge of faux confidence, he tosses the cigarette — only two-thirds smoked — onto the ground and grinds it beneath his shoe. He can probably go through with it, he thinks. It won’t kill him. He’s managed three years already; a lifetime won’t be all that bad…

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Don’t Go | Microfiction

‘Please don’t leave. I’m scared.’

Here we go again. Same routine as always. ‘End of visiting hours – I can’t stay.’

‘Take me with you, then. I don’t want to be here.’

‘I can’t do that. They’re helping you get better.’ Continue reading “Don’t Go | Microfiction”