They're calling it a revolution in the way we read - and it's not some new piece of technology.

Instead it's reading for a fast-paced world where, maybe because of our attachment to hand-held devices and apps and social media, we don't have the concentration spans we once did.

One of the world's best-known and most-successful-writers-of-all-time, James Patterson, has launched BookShots - a series of short, fast, high-impact stories which number around 150 pages and sell for just $7.99.

New BookShots titles will be released every month, including standalones as well as exclusive additions to favourite Patterson series like Alex Cross, Private and Women's Murder Club.


But snappy and evocative writing is nothing new to the organisers of New Zealand's very own National Flash Fiction Day. Started in 2012, the 5-year-old event is especially for those who like to write - and read - short stories.

Aptly, it's on Tuesday - the shortest day of the year, when prize-giving and readings of short-listed/winning stories takes place at simultaneous events in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. There's a top prize of $1000 or $3.33 per word, given that writers get just 300 words to tell a tale - because "life is short, and so is some of the best fiction".

The word limit doesn't appear to put anyone off; this year, there's been a record 519 entries. Previous judges have included Owen Marshall, Fiona Kidman, Mary McCallum, Vivienne Plumb and Graeme Lay; this year's judges are James Norcliffe and Elizabeth Smither.

Smither says with writing of this length, there's no room for extraneous adjectives, multiple characters or convoluted plotlines. "You're looking for something that sticks in your mind," she says.

"I often think about a stop on the Indian Pacific railway in Australia where there's one building and the train makes a brief stop. I imagine someone getting off, finding the people who live there and telling them a story before having to get back on the train."

We'll publish the winning story next week
Author Rosetta Allen emcees the Auckland NFFD event, Auckland Central Library, 5.30pm- 8pm