Monday, September 25, 2017

Flashing My Stuff

Short Fiction - 593
Long Fiction - 2295
Poetry - 324
Total Words - 3212
Editing Hours - 0
Paragraphs of Notes - 5

Well, if there’s one good thing about the heat wave we’re under right now, it’s that it makes it easier to work in my office. Not the new one, the old one. It’s on the north side of the house with a big tree in front of the window, which means it’s nice and cool in the morning. And I actually am finding it easier to get into the routine of writing in my office first thing in the morning.

Except this morning. Being cooler also means the office is dimmer, and this morning I needed some light to energize myself. So here I am in the living room with the view of the deck, and a fan oscillating in my direction. However, the downside of using the fan is that it tends to make my throat sore and exacerbate the cold I came down with at the end of last week. And though I started taking my magical herbal cure at the first sniffle, this cold quickly surpassed the herbs’ ability to combat it. This has been one heck of a year for colds for me

I spent a lot of time on poetry last week. If you’ve ever written poetry, then you should know it can be every bit as time consuming as a short story. The poem I wrote for the Brazen Snake Books prompt was easily twice as long as the finished product. I kept creating and discarding verses, and changed the focus of the woman’s ire. Click on the Brazen Snakes link above if you’re curious about the completed poem.

I did not, however, finish the story I’m writing for my picture prompt. Finding the balance for flash fiction can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you want to tell a complete story, but on the other hand, you want to keep it short. While I really like my story idea, it keeps spiralling out of control. Typically, anything under 2,000 words is considered flash fiction, although it’s more often under 1,500 words. I try to keep mine around 1,000 words.

I read a lot of flash fiction, and in fact I get a flash story delivered to my in-box every week day morning. It’s usually the perfect length to read while I’m having breakfast. And while I’ve read some great stories, I’ve also read some disappointing ones. Some people just don’t seem to get the concept of flash fiction and I have to wonder who they know that they’re able to get published.

A list is not flash fiction. An extended paragraph to set up a punch line is not flash fiction. An article, sermon, or obituary-like report on someone’s life is not flash fiction. And whenever I receive one of these in my in-box, I think I should try submitting a few stories to them because obviously they’re hard up to fill their space.

So what is flash fiction? Good flash should follow the same rules as any other fiction, whether it be long or short. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a point, a reason for it having been written. The best flash should linger in the mind long after the story has been read.

Flash is a great way to hone your craft. It teaches you to be succinct, to the point. Every word must have a purpose. You strip off the flesh and get to the bones of the matter. Out of necessity, the cast of characters will be limited and there will be no space to go into a lot of detail about them, their nature will be shown by what they say or do.

And there are many benefits to writing flash fiction. Your longer writing will become tighter. It will help establish a regular writing habit - it can feed your soul when you don’t know what to write about. Because it’s brief you can indulge in different genres or aspects you’ve never thought of trying before - romance, suspense, humour - without having to worry about keeping it up for pages and pages. It gives you the opportunity to let your imagination out for a stroll.

And as an added bonus, there’s a growing market for flash fiction. And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a little extra money? ;-)

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