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Tall And True Short Reads - In Her Head

Tall And True Short Reads - In Her Head

  12+   Episode 84 (9 December 2023): Cassie lay perfectly still in bed, staring at the shadowy shape on the ceiling overhead. A bulky body and eight legs, a spider, but this wasn't Incy Wincy. It was a huntsman with long hairy legs, needle-sharp fangs, and a jump so powerful that if human, it could win gold at the pole vault without a pole.

I wrote In Her Head for the Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction in July 2023. 

The challenge for the competition run by the Not Quite Write podcast was to "create an original piece of fiction based on two typical writing prompts plus one anti-prompt".

Writers had 60 hours to write and submit 600-word stories, which had to:

  • Feature the word RITE - either in full or within a longer word, providing the original spelling was retained
  • Include the action of "crossing a line", though it wasn't necessary to use the exact wording
  • And break the "avoid all adverbs" rule. 

Adverbs versus Adjectives

I found the anti-prompt to break the rule to "avoid all adverbs" challenging, and I kept confusing adverbs with adjectives. 

But the adverbs prompt gave me a huntsman spider with "long hairy legs" and "needle-sharp fangs" for my protagonist, Cassie, to stare at, frozen with fear, on the ceiling over her bed. 

Then it occurred to me, what if they had a conversation? Would they speak aloud or in her head? These questions gave me my title, storyline (satisfying the other two criteria), and callback denouement. 

And while I may have failed the adverb challenge and my story didn't win or get longlisted for the prize, I loved writing In Her Head.

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I hope you enjoy my spidery tale. You can listen to In Her Head from Acast (above), the Tall And True Short Reads website, or find it and four seasons of other episodes on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyYouTube, and all popular podcasting apps. 

And please tell your family and friends about the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast and the Tall And True writers' website.

© 2023 Robert Fairhead

N.B. You might like to read my blog post introducing Tall And True Short Reads - Season Four.

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Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.

Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.

Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.

He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou

Tall And True showcases the writing — fiction, nonfiction and reviews — of a dad and dog owner, writer and podcaster, Robert Fairhead. Guest Writers are also invited to share and showcase their writing on the website.

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