Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hint Fiction, and Other Items

I learned of an interesting anthology opportunity over on Women of Mystery for what is called “Hint Fiction.” The definition, as given on Robert Swartwood’s blog, is: “hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story.” Mr. Swartwood coined the term.

In 2010, it appears that W. W. Norton will publish an anthology of hint fiction and they are currently looking for submissions. You can find out all about it over on Robert Swartwood’s page.

I decided to send a few items in. I went back through various stories or novels that I’ve started but not continued and culled out what I thought were the most interesting openings. Then I added a dash of editing to get them down to the 25 word limit and try to make them fit the hint fiction concept. Below are some of the ones that didn’t make the cut for me to submit.

Hint Fictions?

The boy looked up to see dust approaching the ferry. Within the dust was a horse, on the horse a rider, all turned to gray.

During the day she cried. Long and hard by herself. And outside the grey wind blew chilled and lonely. She had so much to give.

Swiftly, along dirt roads and through fields of yellow grain, the dry leaves and dust fled, running from the evening storm that stalked behind them.

He stood in the hiss of the rain and the lyre winds, eyes smoky dark like burnt glass. His lips moved with prayers.

On the first day of the month of Harps, he had not returned. And on the second the wind blew black with dust.

You see them occasionally in your home town. They are always passing through. The fangs in their eyes give them away.

Predators seldom stalk predators. But when it happens…

REVISED - 8-2-09:

Also, three more of my blog colleagues have posted very nice things about Write With Fire and have even spoken highly of me. And I didn’t even pay them. If you get a chance check out:

1. Travis’s Tuesday, July 28th post over at his blog.

2. C. S. Harris’s commentary on her blog.

3. Greg Schwartz, who I had made a note to myself to add to this list and then somehow let his post slip my mind, also commented on the book and offers some other interesting info over on his blog.

Of course, Lana has been her usual supportive self, and has some good news of her own to share at her blog.

Thanks Trav and Candy and Lana. And thanks Greg. Sorry I missed that link first time around. And thanks to everyone who has already mentioned the book. Much appreciated.


Travis said...

You are most welcome.

I like this idea of hint fiction. I know there is an actual anthology book project, but this also seems like a fantastic idea for a blog feature.

Rick said...

I'd never heard of hint fiction. I think I'm going to hold out for 3 words or less fiction, though. Might as well be ahead of the curve!

Greg Schwartz said...

i like the "you see them occasionally" one. and the predators stalking predators sounds like it would make for a cool sci-fi/horror warkind kind of story.

Cloudia said...

OOO I know someone who would be perfect for this. Thanks for the hint, Charles.


Comfort Spiral

X. Dell said...

I heard about this on NPR. Sounds like an interesting concept, although I'm probably too long-winded to develop a sentence in twenty-five words, much less a hint at a piece of fiction. More power to you.

Mary Witzl said...

Hint fiction? Hmmm... that's either the perfect thing for someone who can't get enough of words or quite the opposite. I'm impressed with anyone who can distill ideas into only a few choice words.

laughingwolf said...

coolios, but i like second last best

L.A. Mitchell said...

"Hint fiction" sounds like fun. I might try it. Thanks, Charles :)

Kathleen Ryan said...

If these are the ones that didn't make the cut, I'd love to read what you submitted! So glad you're taking the challenge. I wish you the best!

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, yes, I think the guy who invented it has had quite a bit of success and fun with it. It's a good idea.

Rick, I suppose if they were the right three words they might be grand!

Greg Schwartz, I used "predators seldom stalk predators" as a chapter title in a book once. I like the phrase a lot.

Cloudia, it's an interesting challenge and was kind of fun.

X. Dell, it's kind of an extension of what I've always tried to do with opening sentences, although I found a lot of my own best ones, at least so they seemed to me, were between 30 and 40 words. 25 is very short.

Mary Witzl, I suppose it's a natural development of microfictions. Wish I'd have thought of the idea.

laughingwolf, I don't think all of these quite fit the idea of it. They are more poetical perhaps but not so much 'hint worthy.'

L.A. Mitchell, I found that I could use, with revision, some of the stuff from the openings of stories I've not taken very far.

Kathleen Ryan, thanks, and congrats to you. You already have some in the antho don't you? Thanks for visiting.

Kathleen Ryan said...

Hi Charles,
Thanks! I am very fortunate, my hint fiction story, "Playing with Matches" was chosen in the top 20 that are slated for the anthology (it feels like a dream). I hope to submit more soon, I'm still working on them and trying to decide which ones to send.
Good luck!

Mariana Soffer said...

Vert interesting stuff this hint fiction, somehow it reminds me of a book, which I can not remember neither the author nor the name that was composed by short prologues of unritten books

the walking man said...

25 words eh? When he spoke he used words with more syllables than that. They recorded his speeches for insomniacs.

Charles Gramlich said...

Kathleen Ryan, yes, it's not as easy as it seems at first. I'm currently rethinking what I sent, but will try to avoid that since it's not of any use to worry about it.

Mariana Soffer, I know what you're talking about but I can't remember that book either. A couple of years back I submitted to an anthology that was going to be just "first chapters" of novels never written. Never heard back from it though. Thanks for visiting.

Mark, 25 would be a lot if you were talking about party guests, or fish caught in a day. But for words, not so much.

ivan said...

Dunno abut all this. Seems the writers are trying to get over some sort of block. And even some of the hints seem badly written as in
"Swiftly, along dirt roads and through fields of yellow grain, the dry leaves and dust fled, running from the evening storm that stalked behind them."

I think I'd go with old Ezra the Hound Pounder:

For years he strove to resuscitate the dear art

Wrong from the start

I've certainly been doing a lot of rewriting.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I sent mine is--but I should have given it more thought.

Steve Malley said...

Hint fiction sounds to me a bit like one of those six-word stories in need of editing... :p

Charles Gramlich said...

ivan, I think it can be fun to be inventive. I don't see how it has anything to do with a block. Plus, I personaly prefer descriptive writing over self-referential writing that constantly threatens to disappear up its own ass.

Patty, too much thought on something like this probably won't help. It's not easy to plot a 25 word hint fiction.

Steve Malley, lol. I think the idea is, though, that it shouldn't be a complete story. I must admit it's probably open to lots of interpretations.

the walking man said...

But Charles I told the whole story in 20 words ha ha ha ha, beginning, middle and end.

Here is another attempt

She died from a gunshot wound. She had a cheating heart but a faithful body. He wanted her heart, not just her body.

jodi said...

Charles-Hint fiction? That sounds cool. I WILL try it.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hint-Fiction. Never heard of it. I'm going to see what I've got. Most of my flash pieces might fit this category, with the exception of word count.

Godinla said...

Hi Charles, my name is Brian and I bounced here from Leigh Russell's blog. Don't even know if you really know the lady but here I am.

Checked you out a bit and you seem like a kindred soul. I'll be back to read you. Feel free to drop by my blog too.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Very nicely done, Charles. I enjoyed all of these sentences and they promise to open up to so much more ... hence, hint fiction.

BernardL said...

Interesting concept, but a story is a story.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, as I understand it, hint fiction is definitly not supposed to have a middle and end. But I didn't invent it so I'm sure my examples aren't always in the ballpark of it.

jodi, I kind of enjoyed it. It had elements of what I think of as poetical meaning to it. Where poems hint at much but don't necessarily say everything.

JR, It was kind of fun to try and find examples but check out the guy's website. Judging by comments I obviously haven't done a very good job of explaining it.

Godinla, I've never met Leigh personally but we are what you call blog buddies I guess. I'm waiting on a copy of her book now. Thanks for dropping by. I'll check out your blog as well.

Don, the idea seems to fit what I think a sotry opening should do anyway, although not neccessarily in 25 words or less. But fun to play around with.

Bernardl, well, check his site out if you get a chance. He's insistent that hint fiction 'isn't' a story. But, anyway, I thought the idea was fun.

Demon Hunter said...

Cool. Thanks for sharing, Charles. And congratulations on your work as well. I think I'll submit a piece of hint fiction. My flash piece in Necrotic Tissue was only 100 words including the title. :-)

laughingwolf said...
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laughingwolf said...
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laughingwolf said...
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laughingwolf said...

that was me getting rid of 3 irrelevant posts... sorry

Charles Gramlich said...

Demon Hunter, they'll let you use a title in the hint fiction thing that doesn't count against word count. So that's good. It can serve to help flesh out the opening.

laughingwolf, OK, dude, no problem.

SzélsőFa said...

I followed the link to hint Fiction and digged for some more.
I was impressed by some of the submissions.
I would love to see your submissions, when it comes to time, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, cool. I hope something of mine will make the book. But who knows.

jennifer said...

I've never heard of hint fiction but I LIKE it. I'll give it a try...

My heart splintered as I watched my children together in the ocean, not yet seperated by the grievances (real or imagined) that form between siblings living in the same house.

ACK! 30 words. Oh well, I drop big hints :)

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, good one!

Lauren said...

Hint fiction is very interesting. I'd heard of nano-fiction (140 characters or less). It is kind of like a modern take on the haiku :).

Charles Gramlich said...

Lauren, yeah, I'm hearing about twitter fiction which has that limit. I haven't explored that yet.

Erik Donald France said...

That's all cool, from the hints to the reviews!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've been combing through my own short-shorts, trying to see if I have anything that resembles "Hint Fiction." So far, I only have one - it's in a timeline format. I think I'll submit it.

Barbara Martin said...

I liked the short one about the fangs in the eyes. Interesting about hint fiction.