ERNEST HEMINGWAY is said to have bet a group of authors he could write a novel using just six words.
On a restaurant napkin he scrawled: “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn” and won $10 from each of his writer mates. It’s six words that never leaves you.
Perth is producing its own flash fiction writers with the inaugural Perth Shortest Short Story competition, although these fledgling authors get off easy—their limit is 49 words.
Mt Hawthorn local Martin Lindsay is one of six finalists, and his maxi-Tweet was dredged from childhood memories of growing up and running wild in Geraldton.
“Bigfoot lived in the bushland across the road. Brave, bold 10 years olds, we mounted expeditions to his lair. Tentatively approaching until hearing his husky breath, we’d run for home, terror at our heels. It’s all cleared now, subdivided. I hope he got out while still a seller’s market,” he wrote.
The 41-year-old has written four plays and had several regular short stories published, but continues to procrastinate over his dream of writing a novel.
His first attempt at the shortest short story competition saw him write 100 words, which he culled ruthlessly.
“I got to 48 words and thought ‘hooray’ I can put in a descriptive word,” Lindsay tells the Voice.
When not not writing his novel the software tester gently breaks the dreams of others. “People give me their hard work and I break it down and say what’s wrong with it.”
Perth’s Shortest Short Story competition came out of a conversation on how to encourage people to have a go at writing, Australian Writers’ Centre WA director Alecia Hancock says.
“Making it accessible for people. Writing two- to three-hundred words is hard, but who can’t write 49?”
A whopping 253 entries poured in from across the state, with topics ranging from comedy and murder, to romance and loss.
South Fremantle’s Geoffrey Batt’s short, short story had a touch of Henry Lawson about it.
“A thousand golden points lay revealed as the pan cleared to the practiced rhythm of the prospector’s wrists. A thousand stars in a frosted night sky. All he’d promised her. All the years till she tired of dusty floors and faded curtains. Salted tears tracked down his weathered cheeks.”
Harry Schmitz tried his hand at creative writing aged 63, inspired by hype around the first world war.
“His slouch hat suddenly hit the sand. Puzzled, Jock picked it up. Still the Coolgardie dust ingrained on its brim. Still the briny smell of weeks at sea on the troop ship to this Turkish beach. Then he saw it: The entry and exit holes of a sniper bullet.”
The winner was set to be announced on Friday night, and will receive $1000 in cash and prizes from sponsors Boffins Bookshop, along with a mentoring session with award-winning author Natasha Lester.
by JENNY D’ANGER