Day – 6 Flash Fiction Friday

Psst! If you’re getting tired and losing steam, pop over to the comments of yesterday’s Fun-Size Challenge, where people are working through the early parts of the Short Story Framework and getting excited about their ideas. It’s quite infectious.

Why not pull out the Short Story Framework and use it to help plan today’s story?

The Prompt

Write a flash fiction story that involves a flash of light

Tips

Realistically, most of the stories you write this month will be Flash Fiction in length (anything up to around 1200 words), but today I want you to focus on making it vivid, the way great flash should be.

Flash Fiction is about more than word count. It is deliberately taut, and yes, short. It should contain one or two vivid moments or images that stay with the reader long after they’ve gone.

Write your story of 1200 words today, and work on making it flash.

Read the StoryADay Flash Fiction Essentials if you need more inspiration.

FLASH FICTION FURTHER READING

Steve Almond, Stop

Erin Morgenstern, The Cat and The Fiddle

Ariel Berry, Useless Things

Naomi Kritzer, Paradox

Josh McColough, Meteor

Jennifer Wortman, Theories of the Point of View Shift in AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’

Rachel Engelman, Joan of Arc Sits Naked In Her Dorm Room

Julie Duffy, The Girl Who Circumnavigated The Earth In An Act of Her Own Making

GO! Need support? Post here!

Bingo!

make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

StoryADay+NaNoWriMo Mashup Pt. II

Last year I got together with Marya Brennan, the director of NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers’ program to talk about short stories.

We had so much fun that we decided to do it again this year. This time we took a close look at Flash Fiction. Here’s a replay of the livestream.

If you have any young people in your life, they may want to enter the NaNoWriMo YWP’s Flash Fiction Contest, running now (closing date: May 31)

[Write On Wednesday] Alchemists

We’re all alchemists, here, turning an abundant resource (ideas) into something much more valuable (stories) and today i want you to include some alchemy in your story

Alchemists board game box cover

The Prompt

Write a flash fiction story in which a character transforms something seemingly worthless into something valuable

Tips

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Alchemists”

[Write on Wednesday]Anachrony

This week’s prompt was inspired by the flash fiction story Joan of Arc Sits Naked In Her Dorm Room by Rachel Engelman

20130705 statue of liberty (3)
Photo by: schizoform cc by 2.0

The Prompt

Write a 750 word story featuring a character from history or mythology, but place them in a different era

Tips

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday]Anachrony”

[Write On Wednesday] Good From Bad

Yesterday, I reviewed “Useless Things” by Ariel Berry, and it gave me the writing prompt for today’s Flash Fiction focused prompt

U-Turn

The Prompt

Write a story of fewer than 1000 words, that features a twist on a topic/event that might be seen as a disaster. Show us how your character pulls another meaning from it

Tips

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Good From Bad”

Day 10 – Let’s Make These Stories Flash

Yeah, yeah we’re writing super-short stories this month (well, some of us are!), but do they flash?

The Prompt

Write a story in under 1000 words focusing on creating one billiant image in your reader’s mind.

Tips

  • The image you leave in their mind doesn’t have to be visual. It could be an idea.
  • Really focus on making everything lean and making every word count. Make sure your story is about one thing, one moment.
  • Aim to change your reader’s mind about something, whether it’s a person, an experience or a condition of life.

101 – Windy Lynn Harris & Short Fiction

Apologies that the audio is a little crackly on this one, but it’s worth sticking with, to hear the infectiously enthusiastic Windy Lynn Harris and me, gabbing about the joy of short fiction.

Windy Lynn Harris is the author of Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays (Writer’s Digest Books, 2017)

Another new episode of Write Every Day, Not “Some Day”

[Reading Room] Paradox by Naomi Kritzer

I was blogging and podcasting a lot, last month, about short story forms, and how short stories do not have to read like mini novels.

And the month before that was all about Flash Fiction.

Today, I’m recommending that you take a look at this story Paradox, by Naomi Kritzer.

It is both flash fiction and a non-narrative story. And it’s great.

It starts,

This is the original timeline.

This is a great example of how you can make every word count, and how short fiction is a wonderful place to practice that.

That single word, “original” does all the heavy lifting. It tells you a lot about what kind of story this is going to be: confusing, time-travel-y, chatty. It conveys genre, style, and tone.

Five words. That’s all it took her to set the reader’s expectations.

(Note to self: write to the author and ask her what the original first line looked like. I’m betting it wasn’t this. Second note to self: rewriting is key!)

It is written in the first person (sometimes first person, plural) and we never find out the character’s name or gender. It plays deliciously, hilariously, with all the time travel tropes and questions out there, and talks, knowingly, to the reader.

This is no mini-novel.

And it leaves us with a flippant question at the end, the deeper question it asks is not about time-travel at all.

Recommended!

Read it online or listen here.

Making February Flash – A Round Up

Here’s all my best advice on writing flash fiction…

This month has been all about Flash Fiction. It’s a fabulous way to:

  • Tighten up your writing in longer projects
  • Practice writing quick stories, for StoryADay May
  • Rediscover the joy of finishing stories

Here’s everything you might have missed at the blog this month: Continue reading “Making February Flash – A Round Up”

[Write On Wednesday] Openings & Endings for Flash Fiction

Maria
People’s memories of events are shaped by their experiences in the last few minutes. Stories are no different. You could write the best story in the world but if the opening isn’t good, no one will read it; and worse, if the ending is bad, they will remember the let-down, not the beautiful writing and ideas in the body of the tale.

We’re going to work on avoiding that problem, today! Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Openings & Endings for Flash Fiction”

096 – How To Make Flash Fiction…Flash

Flash fiction is more than just a collection of fewer than 1000 words. Flash fiction must…FLASH!

In this episode I talk about,

  • how to surprise your readers,
  • how to craft openings and endings to keep your story in your readers’ hearts,
  • how to use titles as the sizzle that sell your story to a reader

I also remind listeners that it’s almost time for the March SWAGr post, where we make our commitments for the coming month.

Another new episode of Write Every Day, Not “Some Day”

095 – Flash Fiction Part 1

February is the shortest month, so we’re focusing on the shortest of fiction: flash! 

(And, yes, I know there are shorter forms, but this is the particular short-short form I picked, ok?)

This week I talk about what flash is and why you might want to be writing it. Includes bonus trivia about Impressionism.

 

LINKS

Last week’s flash fiction writing prompt: https://storyaday.org/wow-make-it-flash/

The latest Reading Room review featuring flash fiction: https://storyaday.org/rr-meteor-mccolough/

This month’s Accountability Group post: https://storyaday.org/swagr-feb-2017/

Follow StoryADay on Twitter: @storyadaymay

 

Another new episode of Write Every Day, Not “Some Day”

[Write On Wednesday] Make It Flash

This month at StoryADay we’re all about Flash Fiction!

Flash Fiction image

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”

[Reading Room] Meteor by Josh McColough

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”

[Write on Wednesday] Through The Keyhole

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.

The Prompt

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

Tips

  • 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.

Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think

What Is Flash Fiction?

There are, of course, as many definitions of Flash Fiction as there are writers.

Flash Fiction image

Continue reading “Writing Flash Fiction Gems – Small, Precious, and Slower Than You’d Think”

Let’s Talk About Flash Fiction

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

September 24 – Three Micro Stories

Today you’re not just going to write one story. You’re going to write three!

The Prompt

Click on this photo.

Flickr Commons Gallery

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.

Tips

  • 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.

Go!

[Reading Room] Sticks by George Saunders


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?

[Writing Prompt] The Bit Before The End

Remember when your teachers told you every story had a beginning, a middle and an end? Well, they missed a bit.

The Prompt

Write a Flash Fiction Story With Emphasis On The Climax
20130929-090052.jpg
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.

Tips

  • 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.

 

Go!

[Monday Markets] Seedpod Publishing

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.

[Markets for Writers] Six Sentences

Six Sentences is a place to publish just that: six sentence stories.

Six Sentences screenshot

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.

Daily Prompt – May 8: 55 Fiction

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.”)

55 Fiction

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?