Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Some notes on writing flash fiction …

It's hard to write short fiction – you can't ramble, you can't get flowery in descriptions, you can't take two pages to set the scene, your characters have to describe themselves through their words and actions and you have to limit your cast and number of locations to the minimum necessary to tell the story.

What a pain.

Oh, wait. Those are the same rules you should be setting for yourself no matter what the length of your story.

One of my favorite tricks is to write the story, regardless of its length, then go back and edit it. I pare and re-word and re-write. I smooth the choppy results and do it again. I stop doing when I reach the desired length. What's the desired length? Well, for a
FlashShot story, it's 100 words or less. For Flashing in the Gutters, it's 700 words or less. For Flashes of Speculation, it's 1000 words. If your story clocks in at 3,000 words, then paring it down to 1,000 words will be a neat exercise. Getting it down to 100 words might be a wee bit more difficult.

What makes a good flash piece? Opinions vary, but I think it's the kernel of a story, at least one character and a plot twist. The plot twist is what gives a satisfying ending when there are so few words.

So try a flash piece. The shortest one I ever wrote for submission was for Nick Andreychuk at
Nefarious, a whopping 55 words…

Here's one just for you:

Train Station

I stepped back to admire the view. I thought he looked like George Clooney. But I felt an elbow and the platform ended under my foot. His eyes widened in surprise as the commuter train roared down on me.

"Watch out!" A high, girlie voice. Not George Clooney after all.

(only 50 words!)

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