UPDATED WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: 5 Word Story Edition


Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or prompt. You write a flash fiction piece using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 5 words, tops. No more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 1 word.
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before November 27th will be considered. We'll run the winner on November 30th.

This Month's Prize

The winner of this month's contest will get a copy of Emma Donoghue's Frog Music.  

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman named Jenny Bonnet is shot dead.

The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other.

You can also check out LitReactor's review of the book here.

Your Inspiration

Many of you are likely participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I'm only going to ask for 5 words from you this month. And if you're not participating (I'm not), then you get a break! Ok, not really. Because a 5 word story is a lot harder than it seems.

For inspiration, let's look to the 5 senses: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell, and Taste. 5 senses, 5 words. You don't have to include all 5, but serious bonus points if you do. Good luck!


And the Winner is...jyh

A healthy showing, as always, y'all, but JYH takes home the prize for this short 'n' sweet (or, bitter, actually) little number. I can feel the feels with this one. Well done. Now, I wish I had some wine. And a veranda.




"It's over."

Salty sobs.

Part Number:
Taylor Houston

Column by Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer and volunteers on the marketing committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College and attended Penn State's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. She has taught writing at all levels from middle school to college to adult, and she is the creator of Writer’s Cramp, a class for adults who just want to write!

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Grant Williams's picture
Grant Williams from Wichita, KS is reading Friday November 2, 2015 - 5:33pm


Her poisonous touch; my medicine.

Daryl Cervantes's picture
Daryl Cervantes from Manila, Philippines is reading Sherlock Holmes November 2, 2015 - 8:40pm


Watching voices consume noisome vibrations.

Christopher Peterson's picture
Christopher Peterson from Illinois is reading the tea leaves... November 3, 2015 - 8:17am


She saw voices by feeling.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like November 3, 2015 - 10:53am



"It's over."

Salty sobs.

EmmaKellam's picture
EmmaKellam from Canada is reading The Shallows by Nicholas G. Carr November 3, 2015 - 2:08pm


Withdrawn from weeping; without tears.

Lisa Redfern's picture
Lisa Redfern from Nevada City, CA is reading The Oldest and Newest Empire by William Speer November 4, 2015 - 11:35am


Every sense comprehends—LOVE


Joe Golden's picture
Joe Golden from Clarksburg, WV is reading The Big Sleep November 4, 2015 - 12:05pm


Now, your kisses only hurt.

The Dark Lord's picture
The Dark Lord from The Void is reading The Book of the Dead November 6, 2015 - 4:08pm

Signs: Sometimes It's the Thought That Counts

"Dogs Leading Blind Are Welcome"

Jason Van Horn's picture
Jason Van Horn from North Carolina is reading A Feast For Crows November 7, 2015 - 6:30am

A Quantum Physics Christmas

The present unopened, infinite possibilities.

twegmann's picture
twegmann from Indiana is reading Night Film November 7, 2015 - 6:50pm


I knocked...

It knocked back.

artistic addict's picture
artistic addict from Living in Fear and Loathing U.S.A. is reading 1984 November 8, 2015 - 8:49pm


Mmm, Pepsi.  "Agghhahhhghgh"!  



BarryG's picture
BarryG November 9, 2015 - 11:14am







Malcolm Solomon's picture
Malcolm Solomon November 9, 2015 - 1:12pm


It was all about her



benjamin.a.oetken's picture
benjamin.a.oetken November 10, 2015 - 8:53am


Touched.  Sight taken.  Pain remains.

Melina.'s picture
Melina. from Brazil is reading At Night We Walk in Circles (by Daniel Alarcón) November 18, 2015 - 1:59pm


Trying to decipher her body.

G. Howell White's picture
G. Howell White November 11, 2015 - 4:16pm


Blood ... coppery, crimson ... trickled quietly.

mehrad's picture
mehrad from Tehran, Iran is reading Shatter Me November 11, 2015 - 9:20pm


cold, blue, fragrant, silent, sweet

David Burbidge's picture
David Burbidge November 12, 2015 - 4:23am


Afterwards I'm enveloped in you

James Hettenbaugh's picture
James Hettenbaugh from Edinboro, Pennsylvania is reading Comic books November 15, 2015 - 1:29pm


Ava's hands ignited, burning brightly.

Cams316's picture
Cams316 from Wichita,KS is reading The Dead Hearts series November 16, 2015 - 9:43pm


Blindsided. Torn. Fighting. Remembering. Forward. 

k.nungaray's picture
k.nungaray from Baytown, Texas is reading I am currently reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein AND Damned by Chuck Palahniuk November 17, 2015 - 2:31pm


Morals decomposed. She tasted blood. 

whiteliz's picture
whiteliz from Sarasota, FL is reading Paw Patrol books to her two- and four-year olds November 29, 2015 - 7:56am

I see the rules now. Thanks Thuggish.

whiteliz's picture
whiteliz from Sarasota, FL is reading Paw Patrol books to her two- and four-year olds November 29, 2015 - 7:56am


whiteliz's picture
whiteliz from Sarasota, FL is reading Paw Patrol books to her two- and four-year olds November 21, 2015 - 4:52am


Hospice. Bleach-y. Cafeteria. Needles. Flatline.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 25, 2015 - 9:38pm

^ You can, but I believe only your most recent counts.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 25, 2015 - 9:40pm


Sharp can mean so much.