Menelaus statue

Ideas in a Flash – the benefits of micro-fiction

I enter a flash fiction competition every Friday. I do this for a variety of reasons:

1.) It’s fun.

2.) I meet other writers.

3.) I hone my craft

4.) It generates ideas.

My latest effort was limited to 150 words. That’s not a lot if you hope to include compelling characters, potent plot lines, convincing dialogue and rich descriptions all in the one piece.

Therefore, often, you have to focus on one or two aspects of a story – the idea, the conflict, the character, the prose.

Last Friday’s prompt was inspired by the Iliad, which I studied in my sixth-form Classics A-Level. I’ve always loved Homer – I’ve got old drafts of “Modern Odyssey” story ideas that I was toying with as a 17-year-old fiction smith.

And I still remember my favourite character in the Iliad was Diomedes, one of the mightiest warriors of the Achaeans. He and Odysseus are the brave Greeks that launch an assault on the Trojans in the dead of night in Book X. It is Diomedes that bests two of the Trojans’ finest fighters: Hector and Aeneas. And it is Diomedes that consistently has the strongest arguments in the war councils.

But Diomedes is most famous for wounding two immortal gods on the battlefield – Ares and Aphrodite.

So I wrote an alternative history for this flash fiction submission; one where Diomedes realises he was able to wound the immortals, and decides that their meddling in mankind’s affairs must stop. He murders Agamemnon and Menelaus and unites the Greeks and the Trojans in an assault on Olympus, to end the tyranny of Zeus and His kin.

You can’t get much more epic than man versus gods.

Consequently, I have this 150-word short story that tries to convey the scale of this endeavour – the sheer mind-blowing magnitude – but, let’s be honest, falls a little short. It needs more attention! More words!

But that’s what I’ll give it, once my other projects are complete.

This kernel of an idea will be left to germinate in my brain, so that when I come back to it with more time, it will already have sprouted into a cohesive story in the weed-ridden allotment of my mind.

What do you think? Reckon it’s got legs?

In the meantime, here’s the flash fiction piece as I submitted it:


The Divine Alliance

“They hide behind high walls, Hector,” the King of the Achaeans said. “Walls, higher than mortal man may make them.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Diomedes scowled at the mountain; it pierced the Heavens, beset by clouds. “Our common enemy hides, up there.”

“My lord,” Hector began, choosing his words, “I thank you for this alliance. Your actions delivered Troy from ruin. You were right to turn against Agamemnon, Menelaus.”

“Their pride was their folly.”

“Indeed. And tales of your encounters with…” he could not say the words.

“Love and War,” he grinned.

“…but this? Is this not pride? Is this not folly?”

Diomedes considered his ally, and turned to face their amassed legions. “Hector, look at what we wield: Trojans, Achaeans, Myrmidons. I drew divine blood; tell me what thousands might accomplish? No – I will not stop until their tyranny is avenged. We’ll march on Olympus, and have glory, above all.”


Submitted to a Flash Fiction competition – 150 words, taking the themes of a besieged city and a mighty warrior, inspired by Homer’s Iliad.

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