Each Word is Worth a Mile

The Southern Flash 500 is a writing project for Southern themed flash fiction. Participation is open to any writer interested in Southern fiction.

Regional fiction about and from the South can be many things, so the track is wide open except for one thing- no cliches or dialog written in dialect will be chosen. Why? Every word in flash fiction has to count; more than a step, a foot, or a yard. Each word has to carry the story for a mile or it won't be able to finish the race.

If you would like to participate, e-mail flash fiction in the 500 word range to southernflash500@gmail.com at any time. Your submission should be previously unpublished to appear because this is a project.

If your selection is later solicited or selected for publication elsewhere, please e-mail me and the work will be removed or publication credit added.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Reason For My Rules

Someone at Goodreads.com asked me why I decided not to allow Southern dialect or cliches in my writing project. Here's my rationale:

The reason I decided to not accept dialogue written in dialect or clichés is because good writing should be evident in the writer’s ability. The writing should present the South through carefully constructed prose; not in the use of poor humor, often-repeated phrases, or offensive language.

I also find the use of affected dialogue and cliché to be demeaning, insulting, and derogatory. We no longer do this to people of other races and ethnic groups. It should not continue to be put upon the people of Appalachia. Covering a story with worn clichés and stereo-typical dialogue detracts from what should be the focus of the story; the conflict between characters and the resolution of that conflict. I also find it to be uninspired writing. Clichés and “twang” do not make a story Southern, they make it cheap.

Specifically, stereo-typed dialogue signifies that Southern characters are universally uneducated and lack basic intelligence. This is impossible. Characters must have varying degrees of intelligence in order for the dialogue to be interesting. They must be intelligent in order to be motivated toward a goal and to be in conflict with other characters having different points of view. Also, the people of the South have always been resourceful, thoughtful, and communicative. This is evident in their survival. As a result, I find a straight-forward, direct approach to dialogue to be best. The use of rhythm, word choice (with correct spelling), and construction of the sentence as spoken by a character is what differentiates the dialogue and identifies it as Southern speech.

A tired Southern cliché is just that- tired. No one wants to read what has been written thousands of times before. Also, if the same cliché appears repeatedly in a story, it becomes clear that the author did not put much effort into the work. A writer should strive to give the reader something new. It should be something not written before that can evoke an emotional response. It should be something that is unique and works only in the passage in which it appears. This is how writing becomes art. It demonstrates the effort the writer put into writing and the desire to create something more than an anecdote.

This is a project in which I want to be able to read and share beautifully crafted stories that are independent of any crutch or fault. Hence, these are my two rules. There could have been more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to Southern Flash 500. I've left some posts from my old blog so this first page wouldn't be blank. Hopefully, you will be sending something soon to add to the project.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Holiday Fever

I've never submitted work to a Holiday Anthology, but this year I did. My short-short "New Year" was lucky enough to be included in both the Chattanooga and Knoxville editions. You can view and purcahse either or both books from here:

Christmas Books

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Writer's Profile Project

I was profiled on June 25th, 2008 here: Profile

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sonny Brewer Reading

On December 14, 2007, I had the opportunity to hear Sonny Brewer read from his new novel, "Cormac, The Tale of a Dog Gone Missing." The book is based on actual events, and tells the tale of Brewer's Golden Retriever, who ran away from his Alabama home while the owner was on a book tour in San Francisco.

Mr. Brewer read the prologue from the book which is about the death of his childhood dog. The prologue sets the stage for the narrator's love of his dog and the lengths anyone who truly loves his dog will go to in order to get his dog home.

The book does draw a grayed view of dog rescues groups as being over-zealous, seeing pet-owners as irresponsible rather than being empathetic to some one searching for a lost pet. This is the viewpoint of someone who loves animals; the same point of view that leads people to become animal rescuers. As a result, there is a message here for folks on both sides of the fence. The concerns of the pet parent and the rescuer are often the same with the welfare of the pet paramount. Love is at the heart of the matter and communication is key in making sure every dog has a safe and happy home.

Mr. Brewer is the owner of a book store in Fairhope, Alabama and founder of the annual "Southern Writer's Reading" held there each fall. He is also the editor of the anthology series "Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe," from MacAdam/Cage, and the author of "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" (Ballantine) and "A Sound Like Thunder" (Ballantine). The fifth volume in the Blue Moon Cafe series is published under the title "A Cast of Characters and Other Stories." Mr. Brewer advised that the sixth volume in the series has been assembled and will be published in the near future. There are plans for nine volumes in all.