I belong to a writing circle, formed about ten years ago by me and a few like-minded writers who I’d met in a creative writing class. Gradually people moved away or stopped writing and the group has morphed from a writing circle to more of a triangle. We meet every three weeks or so and trash, sorry, “constructively critique”, each other’s work over a bottle of wine or two. We’ve entered various competitions over the years, including ones for mini sagas and nano fiction. I can’t claim any accolades for this form of writing myself, but three members of our little tribe have been recognised for their brilliance, so I shall take some reflected glory from that, because doubtless I trashed earlier drafts (but drank so much wine I can’t remember).
A mini saga has to be exactly fifty words and nano fiction must be one hundred words or less. Here they are:
A mini saga by Ruth Brandt
He didn’t have his own clothes any more, the boy whose mummy said she didn’t want him. So, on clean laundry day he fought for the pants with elastic and the socks that matched. But he always knew when it was Christmas Day; after breakfast they gave him an orange.
That piece won first prize in Connection Magazine’s 2001 mini saga competition. Ruth’s prize was £150; she reckoned £3 a word wasn’t a bad rate. She spent the money on champagne. (Sadly, the mini saga is a true story).
A mini saga by Kevin Levell
He bought the thing he didn’t need, with money he didn’t have, from someone he didn’t know. It had been designed by someone he hadn’t heard of. It was built by someone who didn’t care, in a country he’d never been to. He got it home and it didn’t work.
Kev is not just creative with his writing, he’s a fantastic professional illustrator. Check out his work. http://www.kevlev.co.uk/Kev_Lev_2.0/home_2.0.html. He can also turn his hand to corporate graphic design – he created the Write Brain logo for me (http://write-brain.co.uk).
By A Thread
A mini saga by Sylvia Colato
Theseus decided. Sailed to Crete and ingratiated himself with a traitor.
Without fear along the tortuous route, thanks to the secret weapon, he arrived and slew the powerful brute.
Really grateful for her help, he left the island with informant, Ariadne. He nevertheless abandoned her, on Naxos, en route home.
Sylvia’s and Kev’s pieces were ‘Commended’ in a national mini saga competition run by The Daily Telegraph. Both were published in a collection of the winners in 2001. The competition was devised by Brian Aldiss and one of the judges was Joanna Lumley. I don’t believe they’ve run the competition since, which is a shame.
Nano Fiction, By Ruth Brandt
My boyfriend insisted that ducks couldn’t fly. We argued for days, staying up late into the night. When I ran out of facts, I decided to give my boyfriend the time and space to process all my compelling arguments.
After a week of silence I returned to our flat to find that my boyfriend remained convinced that ducks were purely water birds. In order to put the silly argument behind us and get on with our lives, I persuaded him to accompany me to the park. We waited by the duck pond for an hour. The ducks didn’t fly.
Nano Fiction by Ruth Brandt
My boyfriend went away to university, leaving his fishing tackle in my safe keeping. I took to hanging around the lake where he had fished, chatting to the other fishermen and telling them how much I missed him. When one of them caught a 26.6lb pike, I knew my boyfriend would be delighted to learn that the lake held a fish of such a size. So I took a photo of the pair, entitled it ‘What a catch!’ before texting it to him. My boyfriend texted back saying I should return his tackle to his mum.
Those two pieces by Ruth were ‘Commended’ and published in an anthology called ‘Ada and more Nano-Fiction’ published by Leaf Books in 2009 (www.leafbooks.co.uk).