Tag Archives: David Swann

Prompt 4 of a series by David Swann

The fourth in our series of prompts from David Swann, winner of the 2021 Novella in Flash Award. Our 20th single flash award, judged this round by Karen Jones, closes tomorrow, Sunday 6th February at midnight GMT. There’s a prize pot of £1460 and an opportunity to be published in our year-end festival anthology if you reach the longlist of 50. If you want inspiration for a last minute flash, look at David’s idea below. He gives an example about how he used Ekphrasis in his novella in flash, Season of Bright Sorrow.

David says::
Ekphrasis is one of the oldest tricks in the book, used by Homer in The Iliad. It’s when one art form responds to another, e.g. you write a poem about a painting. In Season of Bright Sorrow, on p. 79, I connected the wandering boy Archie to an ancient artwork in a church, and incorporated a description of the prop, as ekphrasis usually does.

Viking giant
Archie spotted the stone as he trotted home at last, past the open door of the church. It was a hogsback, the sign said –a curved grey oblong that the Vikings had cut to resemble a wild boar. It had lain exposed for centuries in the graveyard on the headland before being dragged indoors. There was another plaque explaining something about the stone’s purpose, probably to guard an important grave, but Archie was entranced by the object, and never had time to absorb the words. He used one finger to trace a stag and a wolf. There were trees too, and what felt to his finger like birds, but it was the snake that held him, a braiding of stone that formed the frame for the carvings. Its scales made the hogsback scary and reptilian, as if a fossilised crocodile had washed up. What Archie liked most of all was the giant human figure
which had braced itself beneath the serpent and raised both arms as if in celebration of a goal. The figure’s outstretched arms looked like they were supporting the full weight of the snake. Archie smiled. The figure was going to hoy that massive creature into the sea.
‘Can I help you, young lad?’
No, Archie never had the time. He loved an old church until someone in a collar or a uniform turned up, the vicar or the sexton. Then that was that for Archie – he was offski.He was fast, true. He ran like a hare. What he missed was some muscle. Maybe if he trained, he’d end up like that Viking giant, lift his enemies in the air and throw them in the sea.

David’s prompt_

Attempt the same — take a wandering character and connect them in some way to an artwork that fascinates you.

You’ll find interesting examples of ekphrasis here:

Guest Blog: 10 Examples of Ekphrasis in Contemporary Literature by Patrick Smith.

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An Etymology prompt by David Swann

Here’s the second prompt in our series from award winning writer and senior university lecturer, David Swann, based on the definition in the frontispiece of his prize-winning novella-in-flash, Season of Bright Sorrow
We’ve quoted the definition here:

‘derelict (adj.) 1640s, “left, abandoned by the owner or guardian,”
from Latin derelictus “solitary, deserted,”… “leave behind,
forsake, abandon, give up,”… Originally especially of vessels
abandoned at sea or stranded on shore. Of persona, “unfaithful,
neglectful of responsibility,” by 1864.’ — Online Etymology
Dictionary, derelict | Origin and meaning of derelict by Online
Etymology Dictionary (etymonline.com)
Season of Bright Sorrow – a phrase sometimes used to describe
the cold, sunny days of Lent, a time of both hunger and hope.

Our second print run of Season of Bright Sorrow will be back at the Ad Hoc Fiction book shop shortly, but in the meantime, you can buy from Amazon (linked to your country on the bookshop page) or purchase a signed copy direct from David. Just email jude at jude{at}adhocfiction{dot}com and she will pass on details to him.

David’s prompt

Browse the etymology website below until you find a concrete image hidden inside a word that intrigues you. For instance, our word ‘scene’ contains an ancient vestige of Arabian tents! Or ‘dereliction’ contains a stranded boat. This may take a while. But, once you have found an image that excites you, see if you can give this image to a lonely character. Then wait to see what happens when you connect their loneliness to the prop and the word. This is one of the ways in which ‘Season of Bright Sorrow’ first fired into life, all its elements brought together by the theme of ‘dereliction’. See: Etymonline – Online Etymology Dictionary

Etymonline – Online Etymology Dictionary
The online etymology dictionary (etymonline) is the internet’s go-to source for quick and reliable accounts of the origin and history of English words, phrases, and idioms. It is professional enough to satisfy academic standards, but accessible enough to be used by anyone.

Our 2022 Novella in Flash Award just finished and we’re looking forward to reading more wonderful novellas in flash. Thank you to everyone for entering. We expect final results to be out in April, 2022.

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Bricolage – a prompt from David Swann

Dave Swann had lots of interesting things to say at the launch of Season of Bright Sorrow at the Flash Fiction Festival on January 8th. We’re very happy that he has agreed to run a half hour session on The Fibonacci method of writing at the March 26th festival day, showing how he used this in one of his stories. In the meantime, we are including some more of the prompts he kindly sent to us which inspired more stories in the novella.

Bricolage. (‘Do it yourself’, in French). Here, the writer works as a beachcomber, picking up fragments, like Mr Flook in my novella. (Jude says: Throughout Season of Bright Sorrow there are fascinating short list pieces showing what Mr Flook finds on Morecombe beach. Here’s the first piece below):

In the bag

One straw hat.
Two mermaid’s purses.
Sea-glass (blue).
Two lengths of barbed wire.
Copper coin or token (unidentifiable).
Many plastic bottles, many bags.
Child’s hair band.
Whelk shell (broken), plus egg-cases (attached).

So go out into the street and either collect or photograph, say, ten fragments that you come across (litter, pebbles, leaves, etc.) Then lay them out before you and write a flash, or a series of flashes, that use your ‘beachcombing’ as props in a narrative chain. On p.60 of Season of Bright Sorrow, you’ll find an Outsider Artist working as a bricoleur.

For another example, see Outsider Environments Europe: Willem van Genk, Busstation Arnhem/Arnhem bus station (outsider-environments.blogspot.com). For those who are interested in finding out more, Jarvis Cocker made a brilliant series about Outsider Art.

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Launch Party for 4 Novellas in Flash, 22nd December!

Come to the launch party, hosted by Ad Hoc Fiction director, Jude Higgins on Wednesday 22nd December, 7.30pm – 9.30 pm on Zoom for four of the novellas-in-flash published from our 2021 Award! Published today (9th December 2021), in a beautiful line up, One For the River by Tom 0’Brien a runner up in the Award; and two short-listed novellas, The Listening Project by Ali McGrane and Kipris by Michelle Christophorou. We’ll also be officially launching Small Things by Hannah Sutherland, highly commended in the 2021 Award and published in October.

These are four brilliant novellas in flash, all very different and at the launch the authors will tell us more about them and each read three short pieces from the books.There will be break out chats and a book giveaways at the end of the evening. Hope you can come! Email jude {at} adhocfiction {dot} com for a link. All welcome. In the meantime, have a look at our 2021 judge, Michelle Elvy’s comments on the novellas.

You can buy all of them directly at the online bookshop at Ad Hoc Fiction. On each bookshop page there are also links for buying in paperback from Amazon world wide. And if you want a signed copy, some of our authors are selling them directly. Please DM them on Twitter to ask for a copy or email Jude at the above address for her to pass your details on.

And the last of the ten novellas in flash from the 2021 Award (the fifth yearly Bath Novella in Flash Award) will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction on 18th December. It’s the first prize winner, Season of Bright Sorrow by David Swann. Read more about it here. It is now open for preorder. We hope to launch David’s book in early January.

The 2022 Bath Novella in Flash Award closes on January 14th. Submissions welcome for novellas in flash in between 6000 and 18000 words. Michelle Elvy is judging again and results will be out in April 2022.

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October 2017 Judge’s Report
David Swann

As a boy, I loved a story about a football player whose team had just won the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. Sitting in the dressing room after the match, the player complained he’d lost a contact lens out on the pitch. One of his team-mates is supposed to have said, ‘Well, this is our lucky day – why don’t we go back out and find it?’ According to the story, they did just that, and found the contact lens within moments!

I’ve never known whether the hunt for the lens ever happened, and I don’t care – because the story’s full of some weird ancient storytelling truth that I trust.

Now I often remember the tale when I’m entering writing competitions. The pitch at Wembley is vast, and success seems impossible.

Yet sometimes the luck is with us. Sometimes there’s a glint in the grass.
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Interview with David Swann
Flash Fiction Award Judge
July – October 2017

David Swann’s flash fiction collection Stronger Faster Shorter was published in 2015. In 2016 he won the Bridport Flash Fiction Competition, his eighth success in a Prize that he judged in 2013. His other publications include The Privilege of Rain (based on his experiences as a Writer in Residence in jail, and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award) and The Last Days of Johnny North, a collection of his prize winning short fiction. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Chichester, where he teaches modules on fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. His ambition is to ride downhill in a bath.
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Stronger Faster Shorter
Flash Fictions by David Swann
Review by Jeanette Sheppard

Stronger Faster ShorterThe twenty-five flash fictions in Stronger Faster Shorter Flash Fictions (Flash: The International Short-Short Story Press, 2015) form a chronological narrative spanning a boy’s childhood in the 1970’s to adulthood. Each flash provides a sense of the narrator inviting the reader to peer into the past and experience the emotional truth of ‘our world, up the M6’ (as termed in Butlins with Books). Sometimes the narrator looks back with a measured eye, at other times he is rummaging in the past rediscovering people and places that recall further memories and provoke reflection.

There is a nostalgic quality throughout as the narrator shines a flashlight on a multitude of emotionally resonant characters including: a singing alcoholic, a goat murderer, a spoon playing war veteran, CB radio hams, pigeon fanciers, a university student, war survivors, a burned man on a bus and an ex-lover’s friend.
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