by Sue Ann Connaughton
“How does it feel to crave unhealthy cigarettes?” he asked.
“It feels like new love,” she replied, remembering their courtship.
Note: “Addiction” was originally published in the Winter 2010–2011 issue of the now defunct electronic publication, Twenty20 Journal.
What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Addiction” that might interest readers, writers, students, and/or publishers of flash fiction?
I wrote “Addiction” specifically for Twenty20 Journal, which limited the word count to twenty words.
Originally, I focused on negative perceptions of the smoker from the viewpoint of the nonsmoker. As I played with words and concepts, the smoker emerged as the viewpoint character with a comparison and commentary that I hadn’t planned. Because of the low word count, I wanted the title to work double time: to express theme(s) and to also suggest movement within a relationship.
Sue Ann Connaughton writes from a drafty old house in New England. Her short pieces have appeared in a variety of publications, including WhiskeyPaper; The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts; The Adroit Journal; One-Sentence Story Anthology; Barnwood Poetry Magazine; The Bicycle Review; GlassFire Magazine; Vine Leaves; and Fabula Argentea. Currently, she’s working through a painful edit of her first novel.
FF.Net Editor Commentary (Randall Brown)
Anyone–it would be hard to argue against this–can write a twenty-word piece, and therein, I think, lies the challenge of very short fiction: How can you make your piece stand out, be good, better, brilliant? For writers and teachers of very short fiction, Sue Ann’s “Addiction” serves as a great model.
The title first attaches itself to the cigarette, but then it becomes something else: a new love, a courtship. At the root of courtship is courtier: diplomacy, manners, flattery, wooing. At the root of addiction is something nearly the opposite: something wild, unbounded, excessive. That creates a tension, as does his use of unhealthy and her association of it with their new love. So that’s something to think about in creating great (very) short fiction: try to use the title to create a tension with a key word in the story itself. Here, the title and the last word create a conflict that one might sense in their relationship, and because they characters are un-named a reader might see some universal truth in this marriage.