This month at StoryADay we’re all about Flash Fiction!
Flash fiction is loosely defined as being between 250 and 1200 words long, but it is so much more than that.
The best description of Flash Fiction I’ve ever seen goes like this: Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Make It Flash”
This is literal flash fiction, with the flash of a meteor leaving an impression on the eye of the protagonist.
It also leaves the reader with a flash-bulb impression of the two characters he comes across on the beach.
Every line paints pictures of the scene, cramming vivid scenery into our brains in a very few words: Continue reading “[Reading Room] Meteor by Josh McColough”
This month at StoryADay, I’m focusing on Flash Fiction. Be sure to check in regularly and follow me on Twitter.
A novel invites the reader to explore an entire house, down to snooping in the closets; a short story requires that the reader stand outside of an open window to observe what’s going on in a single room; and a short short requires the reader to kneel outside of a locked room and peer in through the keyhole.
Bruce Holland Rogers
(2013-02-25). The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
Let’s take Bruce at his word.
Imagine you’re looking through a big, old-fashioned keyhole, into a room. Write a story of fewer than 1000 words, about what you can see
- Think of this as a way of reducing the events of whatever is going on in the room to the moment.
- Use powerful imagery and strong verbs to narrate the story and make it ‘flash’.
- In a story this short you probably only have room for one or two characters.
- A story this short can only focus on one moment/event.
- Use dialogue to convey information. Hint at backstory with tone and word choice.
- When you have finished your first draft (and therefore know what the story is about) go back and work on your opening lines
Leave a comment below, letting us know how you got on with this prompt, or what ideas it sparked for you.
What Is Flash Fiction?
There are, of course, as many definitions of Flash Fiction as there are writers.
Continue reading “Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think”
In which I encourage you to write Flash Fiction and tell you about an upcoming online workshop.
Flash Fiction chat, April 10, 2017
Posted by Story A Day on Tuesday, April 11, 2017
The online workshop will happen on April 22, 2017 from 4 PM until late.
There are 10 tickets for full workshop participants (writing exercise, critique and discussion) and 40 reduced-price tickets for audience-only attendees.
Sign up now
Today you’re not just going to write one story. You’re going to write three!
Click on this photo.
Flick through the gallery and pick the first three pictures that catch your attention. Now, write a short, 50-100 word story for each. No more than 100 words each.
- Your stories can link together or not.
- You may discover a theme that ties them together as you write the stories. You may discover it afterwards. You may never discover a common thread among the three pictures you write about. (Your readers might.)
- Try doing something different for each story. Make one a monologue, one a fragment of conversation, another a more traditional narrative telling the reader something about the incident/person in the story.
- Do this as quickly as you can. Don’t spend any time wondering why you picked the pictures or whether what you’re writing is strictly a ‘story’. Just work fast and move on.
- You don’t have to write about three. If you find yourself writing a longer story inspired by one of the pictures, feel free to continue.
- You don’t have to tell the story of the person in the picture. The key is to write something ‘inspired by’ the picture. It could be someone telling the story of his grandmother (pictured) or it could a story that evokes the emotions you felt when you looked at the picture.
- You can write more than three if you feel inspired. Just keep them short. I’m interested in seeing what ideas pour out of your heads, after three full weeks of writing a story a day.
- Try to let us know which pictures you used for which story, if you’re sharing your stories online.
I’m on a George Saunders kick.
I mean, when someone can write a story with fewer than 500 words that makes you actually say “oof” out loud at the end? You’re going to want to go on a kick, reading their work.
“Sticks” is a grown man’s reminiscence about his father. It begins,
Every year Thanksgiving night we flocked out behind Dad as he dragged the Santa suit to the road and draped it over a kind of crucifix he’d built out of a metal pole in the yard.
That use of the word ‘crucifix’ is key. Doesn’t that make you want to keep reading? You know there’s more to this than just a funny story about fatherly quirks.
The story is extremely well crafted. You get the sense that there must have many revisions, re-revisions, reversions and more revisions to make it this tight.
That’s only depressing if we think our job as writers is to get as many words out into the world as quickly as possible. If we believe that our job is to craft stories, and that rewriting is a crucial (and enjoyable) part of writing, then George Saunders is our new mentor.
Write the crappy first draft. Then spend as much time as you need to, reworking it until it is art.
How Do You Feel About Revisions?
Remember when your teachers told you every story had a beginning, a middle and an end? Well, they missed a bit.
Write a Flash Fiction Story With Emphasis On The Climax
I love disaster movies — even the really cheesy ones — so my story today will be a mini disaster movie.
I don’t have time, in flash fiction, to build up all the characters a disaster movie would visit at the beginning (the screw-up anti-hero, his ex-wife, the wise elder who’s doomed to die, the young person who hates the anti-hero but will eventually become reconciled with him, the comic relief, the unrequited love interest, the bull-headed person in authority who hampers the anti-hero’s efforts to save the world and, of course, the villain who causes it all through action or arrogant inaction…see? I REALLY love my disaster movies!).
nstead, I’m going to have to concentrate on quickly establishing my flawed character, what he thinks he wants, what he actually needs, his wise-cracking character and his long-suffering assistant/love interest. Then I’m going to wreck his life — quickly — which is fine, cos his life was a wreck anyway. Then I’m going to threaten the last people he cares about, just like we practiced earlier this week.
Finally, I’m going to really concentrate on the climax. I only have up to 1000 words, so I’m not going to be able to go the full Bruce-Willis/Sharknado here, but I’m going to put everything on the line and do my best to pull at the reader’s heartstrings.
FInally, I’m going to spend 100 words or fewer wrapping up.
- Before you even start writing, imagine a killer climax
- This mean you’re going to have to know your character and his/her problem before you start writing.
- You’re also going to have to think of a few complications you might throw at your character.
- How can you show the reader why this matters? (Disaster movies usually do this by having the main character’s best friend tell point it out in a conversation, wherein the anti-hero shrugs and makes a witty, self-deprecating joke.)
- Don’t be afraid of the cheese factor. This is an exercise, not your last shot at literary immortality (and even if it was, someone got paid to write Sharknado, after all!)
- Concentrate on your climax. Everything is at stake, but you don’t have to be writing a disaster movie to make this dramatic. How will your hero change to get out of this problem? If he’s a ranging drunk, can he put down the bottle? If she never talks back to anyone, does she finally stand up for herself? If she’s living under an oppressive regime, can she put three fingers to her lips in a gesture of defiance and have that gesture returned by the crowd (no, wait, that’s been done. But see how totally silent, non-violent act, can be electrifyingly dramatic?)
You have a maximum of 1000 words.
Seedpod Publishing is a “micro-publishing cooperative” — which sounds to me like a collection of authors and publishing people banding together to distribute literary fiction, digitally.
They publish books and help with promotion and distribution – all digital and Digital Rights Management free, so your readers can read your book wherever they want, not linked to any particular device.
They also curate a Twitter stream of 140-character tiny tales at @seedpodpublishing . You can submit your Twitter stories here. (I particularly like their Publishing Rights section, written in Real English!)
From the Writers’ Guidelines page:
We believe that writers can and should be supported financially by the community. Because of this, the free versions of our books are made possible by donations as well as by advertising from organizations that are doing socially just work. Our aim is to nurture the work of writers and keep literature accessible for all.
It’s intriguing alternative to both traditional publishing and go-it-alone self-publishing. I’ll be watching with interest.
Six Sentences is a place to publish just that: six sentence stories.
It has been one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Sites For Writers and publishes a new six-sentence story every day. It’s a great (non-paying) market for flash fiction writers.
It offers readers the chance to vote the story “good”, or “spectacular” (a ratings system I love) and provides a link back to the author’s site.
Check out the writer’s guidlines here or read some recent six-sentence stories.
It is possible to write a story in 55 words
A lot of people aim to write Flash Fiction because they think it’s going to be quicker than writing a longer story. Don’t they know their Blaise Pascal? (“”I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.”)
It is possible to write a good story in 55 words (the title isn’t part of the word-count, but must not exceed seven words), but it’s not necessarily a quick thing.
Still, Saturdays tend to have more ‘running around’ time than ‘sitting at a desk time’ for many of us, and that might equal ‘thinking time’ if we’re lucky.
So grab your idea right now. Then, while you’re folding laundry, or taking the kids to soccer, think about how you can deliver a punch in 55 words. Think about which elements of your story you can strip away to cut it down to 55 words. What is essential in your story?