Flash Fiction Review– “The Birthday” Mike McCormick
By: Alex Boyd
Life is fast-paced nowadays.
The majority of people don’t have time in their schedule to sit down and read fifty pages in order to get into a really great story. It might take some people three days to read that much. They might even have given up by then. And, let’s face it. There’s a lot of writing out there. Some even say that there’s too much. Because of that, a writer doesn’t get the luxury of getting two or three chances from the reader. The moment they lose the reader’s focus, there’s something else out there for them to read instead.
What better way to get the attention of a reader with limited time than to give a writer 750 words to do so?
Flash fiction is how writers have decided to get to readers who aren’t looking to delve deep into a full-length novel or are simply looking for something short and action-packed. With the 750 word maximum, a writer is forced to apply every good quality of writing and apply them almost immediately.
Flash fiction isn’t limited to any specific form or style. As a relatively new form, we can “get away” with whatever we please. Strange approaches can be taken. Lists. Journal entries. Vocal rants. This high-speed form offers something entirely unique, normally consisting of less description but a multitude of options. It’s a form to be taken advantage of. It’s our opportunity to pack as much as you can in as few as a hundred words and deliver a message, a scene, or a story to those who would normally have entirely overlooked them.
Take “The Birthday” by Mike McCormick for example(found at: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/2013/02/the-birthday-by-mike-mccormick/#more-28). He begins: “Dad was carrying a tray of grilled hot dogs across the fresh-cut grass when his knees stiffened and black smoke spewed from his nose,” immediately drawing the reader in with a strong tone and an intriguing image. He combines the typical scene of a ten year-old’s birthday party with a world where mechanical people, robots, live among the rest of us. In 750 words, he gives us just a snapshot of this slightly altered world, allowing for us to imagine the further evolution of the scenario in which a boy is learning how different his mechanical father and uncle are. The story is packed, presenting a short, detailed story that doesn’t needs not cover more than a single page. However, like most successful flash fiction, it gives its readers a story to elaborate upon themself, multiple viewpoints to consider, and questions to ponder.