The … and the short of it

ERNEST HEMINGWAY is said to have bet a group of authors he could write a novel using six words.

On a restaurant napkin he scrawled: “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.” and won $10 from each of his writer mates. It’s six words that never leaves you.

Perth is producing its own flash fiction writers with the inaugural Perth Shortest Short Story competition, although these fledgling authors get off easy—their limit is 49 words.

A whopping 253 entries poured in from across the state, with topics ranging from comedy and murder, to romance and loss.

South Fremantle’s Geoffrey Batt’s short, short story had a touch of Henry Lawson about it.

“A thousand golden points lay revealed as the pan cleared to the practiced rhythm of the prospector’s wrists. A thousand stars in a frosted night sky. All he’d promised her. All the years till she tired of dusty floors and faded curtains. Salted tears tracked down his weathered cheeks.”

Harry Schmitz tried his hand at creative writing aged 63, inspired by hype around the first world war.

“His slouch hat suddenly hit the sand. Puzzled, Jock picked it up. Still the Coolgardie dust ingrained on its brim. Still the briny smell of weeks at sea on the troop ship to this Turkish beach. Then he saw it: The entry and exit holes of a sniper bullet.”

The winner was set to be announced on Friday night, and will receive $1000 in cash and prizes from sponsors Boffins Bookshop, along with a mentoring session with award-winning author Natasha Lester.

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