I don’t really remember how I came across this site, but it was probably through twitter, as most websites I find nowadays are. Either way, I found it and thought ‘well, this seems like a good idea’ and as soon as I could sign up, I did.
Thing is, I don’t really write short fiction.
I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo the last couple of years and have spent the time in between working out how to write novels. Even the shorter parts I do write tend to be scenes from larger works. Short stories seem daunting in terms of their length. However, I like the idea that I can write a full story very quickly, without the meticulous planning and masses of editing that go into a novel.
So, when I first found the website, I looked up the words ‘short story’. Just that. I mean, I knew what a short story was to read one, but I needed a little more information. I got this:
A short story is a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
Well, that made sense. A general consensus on length (from Wikipedia and other sources, such as calls for submissions) gave me a variation between 1,000 – 7,500 words (though Wikipedia does say that anything under 20,000 words is short fiction!). That wasn’t so bad. Picking up a theme? Harder. I’ve never been good at defining a theme before I start, but I’m sure it’s one of those things I can work on throughout the month.
I then heard about this thing called flash fiction, mainly through the National Flash Fiction Day events that kept popping up around the web. So, I looked up that, too.
Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as 300, while others consider stories as long as 1000 words to be flash fiction.
So, here, we’re looking at somewhere between 300 – 1000 words (though most places I’ve looked say, simply, less than 1000 words, please), which seems even worse for me! I know I’m going to have a tendency to write scenes rather than stories if it’s that short (especially since I’m having trouble telling the difference in my attempts right now!). I’m hoping that’s something I’ll be able to work on – it should be, if I can work out where my problems lie.
As far as I can tell, the thing that differentiates a scene from a story is a change. Every story has a change, a goal that the character(s) is reaching for. The problem is, with a novel, it’s easier to let the character reach that goal or not because you’ve got more time to set up obstacles and developments; in shorter fiction, it is more often implied (as far as I can tell).
I might be over-thinking it somewhat.
Still, I know what I’ll be working on at the start of this May. I’m going to try out a variety of short stories and flash fiction – though mainly flash fiction on National Flash Fiction Day (16th May) – and see what I can do with it after. (I’m borrowing a commandment from Audric Clarke’s blog: “All stories are created equally, and none shall be forced into the Scrapped folder, no matter how much editing it takes.”)
Phew. So, that’s my short overview of short fiction. Tomorrow is going to be my second prep post, about prompts and ideas for writing. Hopefully it’ll be a bit more coherent than this.