Welcome to Night Walk Wednesday, where I talk about the submission journey of a story from my flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths. This week’s tale is “Small Evil.”
If you’ve read previous installments in this series, you can probably guess where this story came from. Yep, a one-hour flash fiction writing exercise. The prompt for this one was a little different, though. Usually, the prompts are photos, but this time it was a short phrase, “One upon a time I was someone else.” That got me thinking about demonic possession, well, because I think about demonic possession a lot. 🙂 The story I came up with is, honestly, not exactly in the spirit of the prompt, but I liked how it turned out.
So I have a formula I stick to when I write flash fiction that helps me write pieces that feel complete. One of the rules in that process is you can have more than two characters OR multiple locations, not both. “Small Evil” is a more-than-two-characters story, so the whole thing takes place in a dingy basement. The set-up is three dudes summon a demon to do their bidding and exact revenge on someone who absolutely does not deserve it. Unfortunately, the would be sorcerers didn’t exactly pay attention in demonology class, and things don’t go well for them. The story is told from the demon’s POV, which is a little goofy, but that’s juxtaposed with some fairly dark subject matter that I think, for the most part, works pretty well.
“Small Evil” is an interesting piece in that it started life as a flash fiction story, and then I immediately expanded it to short story length. I subbed it at that length to the tune of six rejections, then I kind of back-burnered it. A few months later, The Arcanist held a flash fiction contest called Monster Flash. I thought, well demons are monsters, right? And, in this story, so are the humans (maybe more so than the demon). So I whittled the story down to flash length, and it took second place in the contest. The moral of this story is that sometimes you get it right out of the gate, and you don’t need to tinker or expand. In other words, I probably could have saved myself six rejections if I’d just subbed the story as flash from the get-go.
So I subbed this story eight times and received one acceptance and six rejections. The remaining submission I ended up withdrawing after a whopping 211 days and after my status queries went unanswered. Not surprisingly, the market folded a few months later.
If you enjoyed the submission journey of “Small Evil”, check out its 39 siblings in Night Walk & Other Dark Paths, which you can order in print and eBook by clicking the cover below.