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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Tell Family and Friends

I hope you enjoy my school days tale. You can listen to A Better Poem on 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.

Note: This post originally appeared on Tall And True.

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About RobertFairhead.com

About RobertFairhead.com

Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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