The revered writer of short stories, Alice Munro, received the Nobel Prize earlier this year. In an interview in The Paris Review in 1994 Munro said that “any story that’s going to be any good is usually going to change.” It is this principle of the moment of change that informed UEA140Story, a flash fiction project I launched at the start of December, via the discipline of creating fiction in 140 characters or less – the word-length that Twitter accommodates.
The idea had its origins in my background in journalism. Before joining the MA in Creative Writing (Prose Fiction) at UEA in September, I worked as an online editor and feature-writer. In the later part of my career, social media became increasingly prevalent, and I spent a lot of time on sites like Twitter and Facebook during my time at news organisations such as Al Jazeera. These social networks have democratised the landscape, allowing information to flow freely and quickly. Traditional reporters have had to learn new technologies and accept that a digital dimension will remain a part of their daily routines. I wanted to use this medium to promote creativity, in its briefest form, in Norfolk. The response so far has been wonderful and I am pleased that so many parties are already taking part.
In literature, flash fiction is not really a new thing – the six-word ingenious epithet “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” – most likely written by Hemingway, came long before Twitter or Facebook. Some of my fellow students on the MA recently read their 140-stories at The Salon, hosted by Writers’ Centre Norwich. Many excellent submissions have also come from other Norwich-based writing groups and platforms, such as Words and Women. In the stories below, we see how each story, while brief, still manage to accommodate the moment of change, ranging from the dramatic – the discovery of a missing child – to the subdued – a melancholic tale of a farmer resorting to arson at a time of crisis.
I am hoping to receive submissions from far and wide, within and beyond the UEA community. In the future I hope UEA140Story will also collaborate with local organisations and schools.
Here are some of the stories:
It was only when the water from the taps turned yellow and foamy that we figured out where the missing child was.
— Stephanie Ye, MA student in Creative Writing Prose Fiction at UEA
The farm was too much for John, so he welcomed his brother’s help. One night they drank heavily, leaving a cigarette to ignite the blaze.
— Lynne McKinney, Words and Women member
“It’s done!” the Alchemist said. Creating the Elixir of Immortality had taken decades. He was about to drink it then bam! – heart attack.
— Bernardo Bueno, UEA Creative and Critical Writing PhD Alumnus (2013)
To submit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The story should not exceed 140 characters, which includes spaces, and can be of any genre or theme
The writer should include their name and affiliation with Norfolk, however tenuous, and can add their social media credentials. This could include a Twitter handle or blog. Writers who are not on any such networks can still submit and view the feed on @UEA140 or Facebook.