For the last three years, I’ve kept my brain ticking over by writing ultra-flash fiction – also known as nanofiction and twiction, amongst other names – on Twitter. It keeps my imagination in good shape, and has also been useful in my wider work, as writing with the concision demanded by a 140-character limit has fed back into my longer stories. I try to write a new story at least once a day, and I’ve now written more than 1,300 of them…

I’ve been meaning to write a proper post about nanofiction, and flash fiction, for a while now – but that’s for another time; right now, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is in full swing. Over the last few years, the festival has curated a range of Twitter-based writing challenges, and this year is no exception. There is a daily prompt from the official festival using the #StoryShop tag, and associated companies like Jura Whisky are setting challenges too.

I like writing to themes – the tighter the better. Trying to deliver stories – journeys – inside 140 characters has taught me that necessity is the mother of invention; working to a theme often boosts that drive for invention. The best thing about these tags, though, is the sense of community they foster. I love seeing how other people have interpreted the same theme, and sharing and discussing their responses. There have been some belters at this year’s festival: here are my responses to ‘The Missing Duck’…

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 17.05.05

…’The Return’…

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…and ‘The Undiscovered Map’…

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 17.05.51

If you fancy giving it a go, check out #ThePush for story prompts outside the festival, and look for the #vss tag – very short story. Which, ultimately, is what it’s all about.

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