A few weeks ago I had huge fun taking part in a 48 Hour Flash Fiction competition! I didn’t make the shortlist sadly (6 stories out of the 418 entries – perhaps I came 7th?!), but I wanted to share my story with you, as well as give an insight into its creation.
The challenge was to write a sci-fi flash fiction story of up to 2000 words in 48 hours. At 11am on Saturday 8th April, I had to log in to a website where my unique title and line of dialogue were waiting for me.
Title: Moonlight Shadow
Dialogue: “This time you have to uphold your part of the deal.”
Mike Oldfield’s song “Moonlight Shadow” immediately started playing through my head and that was game over, I had to go with it! I listened to it a couple of times and read through the lyrics, some of them particularly jumping out at me:
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Shot six times by a man on the run
I watch your vision forming
Caught in the middle of 105
She couldn’t find how to push through
The bones of a story were already emerging!
So where to set this story? On the Moon, of course! What situations might there be in which someone would utter that line? Were there any unusual ways I could use it? And while I loved those lyrics I decided against using them verbatim in the story, in case of copyright issues (although I ended up not being able to resist slipping “carried away by a moonlight shadow” in!!).
Despite the time constraint, just after receiving my instructions I had to get in the car and travel six hours to Cornwall. Thankfully my husband was happy to drive the whole way so I started brainstorming onto paper. What could a Moonlight Shadow be? “Shadow” got me thinking about the dark side of the Moon. What could be round there? Who might live/hide there (and why)? At some point Selena and Jason walked into my head as the principal characters (Selena’s name was chosen coz it means “moon goddess”, Jason just seemed like a good combo!). Who could be the protagonist? It started off being Selena’s father, but having recently read Naomi Alderman’s “The Power” a powerful controlling female figure seemed more intriguing.
Within a couple of hours the story was taking such strong shape that I grabbed the laptop and started to write it properly. I discovered that although I get carsick from reading, I can type for hours and feel just fine! Happy days! By the time we arrived at our destination the story was roughly drafted. And I’d used the given dialogue line not once, but twice!
Sunday was spent editing and ignoring my family (who took the hint and went out to explore Poldark country). By the end of the day I was really pleased with what I written, but sitting back I suddenly had a bit of a crisis that perhaps I’d got too carried away by the song lyrics and hadn’t based the story around a key scientific idea, which is probably what they wanted for this competition. I quickly started drafting something else, but as bedtime arrived decided to just stick with what I’d done rather than pull an all-nighter (and learn lessons for next time about not getting caught up by nostalgia!).
Monday morning was final editing. I’d used almost the full 2000 words word count, but suddenly decided it would be fun to trim it to 1969 words – the year of the first lunar landing 🙂 I saved the story into the required format (Courier font, double spaced, front page details, etc.) and submitted it half an hour before the deadline.
It may not have shortlisted, but I’m really pleased with what I wrote! In fact, I like it so much that I’ll think seriously about developing into a full novel when I’ve finished working on my other ideas.
I hope you enjoy it too 🙂 (remember that it isn’t polished though because of the timescale it was written in – I’ve really had to fight the urge to edit it before posting!).