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BHD recently had a story accepted for an online magazine. They’ve taken a few of his over the last couple of years (.Cent was the magazine by the way, and when you go looking for it, remember that prefatory .!) This one, just before submission, was given a last-minute trim, or rather, a last minute change. It was only one word, but it was close to the last word, and it was changed from ‘said’ to ‘thought’.

The line, in its final version, went: ‘Me too, I thought’. The actual ending continues ‘and I knew the game was on again.’

The difference is profound.

The story is a first person reminiscence of a conversation, about literature, and sex. That conclusive line, a spoken line in the original version, a thought one in the published, is supposed to reveal something about the narrator that has not been revealed in the rest of the story. In fact, the story is the context for that revelation. But if spoken it is revealed not only to the reader, but to the other character in the conversation. By making it a thought the reader is invited to speculate about whether or not that other character has an inkling of the thought, and if they do, what is their reaction to it.

Other options have subsequently occurred to me. What, for example, might be the difference if the story ended: ‘Me too, I might have said.’

The key is in that ‘might’. Does it imply that ‘Me too’ wasn’t said, but could have been – which implies also that it was still thought. And what if it had ended, ‘Me too, I may have said.’? Doesn’t that add the further possibility that it had been said, but that the narrator has become vague in his admission, perhaps reluctant even?

Four options, and I’m still not sure which would be the best one, but the fact that there are four – and probably more – reminds me how important every single word is, and perhaps more so the closer it is to the end! It reminds me too, that the nuances of writing are dependant for their success not only on the finesse of the writer, but also on the discrimination of the reader.

You can read more BHD stories in Other Stories and Rosie Wreay.

49 stories,flash fictions and monologues by BHD

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BHD has a couple of Flash Fictions in #5 of the Black Market re-View. You can access it here

Here’s another BHD story in that rather cool digital mag .Cent

49 stories,flash fictions and monologues by BHD

Downloadable from CUTalongstory, a collection of 25 Flash Fictions from BHD: Twenty Five Tenpenny Tales.

 

BHD’s short, short story Echoes is among the sixty stories by sixty authors in the newly published Flash Volume 10 (April’17), the Flash Fiction magazine of the IFFA. Stories included are all of 360 words or fewer (less, if you prefer).


It doesn’t matter how many times you kiss the frog. It won’t turn into a Prince.

Have you checked out these guys yet? CUTalongstory

.Cent magazine has one too……(a story by BHD ….hasn’t he been busy…sheesh!)BHDandMe at work

Like buses and policeman today….. Just heard that BHD has picked up second prize in the TSS Flash Fiction quarterly competition:

http://www.theshortstory.co.uk/competitions/flash-fiction/

[Alongside Barbara Renel you’ll note, frae Wigton, just up t’raad….]BHDandME shorn

The Black Market Re-View, issue 2 is now out and available here:

and there’s a very short BHD tale in there….

Winning Stories often more than disappoint me, even in competitions I haven’t entered! (No! Not when they’re mine!:-)

That’s perhaps to do with the fact that we all read differently. We might be ‘better’ or ‘worse’ readers than each other. We might be readers who are each looking for, and responding to, different story elements.

  This might be a more than inconvenient truth for editors, publishers, writers, and competition judges alike. It isn’t much of a problem for readers though.

Recently I was stopped on the second sentence of a prize winning (2nd prize in a Flash Fiction competition) story simply by the fact that, three characters having already been introduced and the first two being men, the third asked ‘he’ a question. Which of them, I wondered, was being asked? Either could have been intended, but the significance of the question, and of the answer would have been, well, significantly different.  Reading on, it seemed to me that the ambiguity was not intentional, that one was more obvious than the other…obvious enough, perhaps, to claim that there was no real ambiguity, only a grammatical, structural one.

It was enough to have stopped me in the story though, and not least because it was a prize-winning story. The questions raised about that placing seemed to erase the questions raised by the story. I was more interested, I confess, in thinking about why the judge had not noticed, overlooked, or not recognised what I saw as a fault, and a fault so early in the story…before I had irrevocably engaged with it.

There’s a section relevant to this in Tobias Wolff’s introduction to his 2008 collection Our Story Begins. I’ve quoted this introduction before, in relation to H.E.Bates, with whom it disagrees fundamentally about the practice of re-writing and editing stories written, and published, long before. Wolff is in favour (Bates wasn’t). The point here is that Wolff  is in favour of ‘correcting’ anything he sees that needs correction, and asks a rhetorical question that reveals why: ‘why should I throw you out of the story with an irritation I could have prevented?’

We’ll answer that question for ourselves, and perhaps with questions, but I can say with certainty that I felt ‘thrown out’ of that prize-winning story by that unexpected early encounter with the ambiguity; yet not primarily because of the story. My attention had been entirely diverted to the judging!