The Flash Fiction Challenge: Reviewed

Saturday, 21st June was National Flash Fiction Day – the third, in fact, to be held by the folk here and Cafe Aphra decided to get in on the action with a Flash Fiction Challenge of our own.

We gave out five writing prompts at three-hourly intervals throughout the day and encouraged you to post your inspired pieces of 400 words, or less, as comments on this blog.

The beauty of flash fiction is that its compact size and brevity allows you to create a glimpse into a life, a world or even just a thought and then, once seen, close that door behind you. There is such freedom in that level of concision. Without the necessity of laying out the background of characters, setting the scene or establishing a theme, plotlines or lengthy metaphors, you can throw whatever combination of words you want on a page and step away. It’s a format that promotes the domestic, encourages the bold, celebrates the fantastic.

On the pages of Café Aphra that day were heady teenagers, frightened mothers and guilty friends. We met with ghosts, villains and wild beasts. We witnessed the pain of the artist, the eroticism of snails and the horrors held in a mirror. We smiled at the mischief created by Puck and the pretension of writers on retreat.

But what really struck me were the exchanges, feedback and observations that were passed between people throughout the day because that is what Café Aphra is really about – a community of writers supporting, sharing and encouraging each other to do what they love. We know that writing can be a lonely and solitary activity - but we all write to be read. Receiving and giving feedback is like a lifeline for a writer. We cannot work in a vacuum  - it can create imbalanced writing and gibbering writers who finally emerge, blinking, into the sun one day as pale and as translucent as their laptop screens. We need to share what we do with others who have the same values, goals, struggles and pains because that will strengthen our community which will then, in turn, strengthen us as writers. We think that you can find some of those people here.


  1. It was such fun. It was play. There were the prompts and who knows what one's mind will do: cooperate or stall. Mine was inspired for four of your five. I loved the immediacy and the contact with others posting. What fun. Perhaps we need this once a month, prompt-a-month-day. Play. Play keeps people happy.

  2. I kept logging on at intervals and was amazed by the stories we were posting. Like Joy, whose stories were so thought-provoking, I thought it was so much fun. Let's try it again for the autumnal equinox!

  3. It's true that one of the things that kills us as writers is a lack of feedback. Often no response at all is worse than a negative one so I applaud the folks at Cafe Aphra for this initiative. It was good fun to participate in. Sara - special thanks to you for making each piece of writing feel welcome.


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