Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans


Flash Reprint: Sue Ann Connaughton’s “Addiction”


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.


Ann Connaughton.jpgSue 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.

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