For those who don’t know, Flash fiction or the short-short story as it is also known, is a type of fiction writing that relies on brevity and can be read – or written I suppose – in a flash.
Surprisingly, at least to me, this type of storytelling is not a new thing (I don’t live under a rock, I promise!). In fact, it has just about always been around; remember Aesop and his Fables such as The Boy who Cried, Wolf? Who’d have thunk it?
Certainly not me. I figured it was a new way to tell stories, perhaps developed out of the need to accommodate the shorter attention spans we seem to have been evolving in this, the age of technology. Colour me surprised with a giant, yellow crayon!
Since I stumbled upon this wonderful variant of my favourite art form – the short story – I have been reading lots of flash fiction in an attempt to learn how to become better at writing it myself. After all, as a lot of writers will tell you, other than actually writing, the best way to learn how to write is to read, read, read!
You may be thinking that it should be easy to write a story such a short story, but it’s actually quite tricky. There are certain elements required in order write good flash fiction, such as keeping everything within the confines of 750 words or thereabouts (though I have seen some go up as much as 1500).
I find this very difficult. My natural instinct is to explain or to describe everything in great detail which, if it goes unchecked (and it often does ) can create hours of extra editing that would have been unnecessary otherwise.
I always want people to see in their heads what I see in mine when I’m picturing the scene. However, there should be no superfluous words or phrases – every word must count because you need the space. You see my problem? It’s hard sometimes to be concise.
Another good tip I received recently about writing flash fiction is to maybe keep to using one character, possibly two and to use a single setting. Too many characters and scene changes mean too many words.
Finally, once you’ve come up with a great idea, you just need to write. Write your story all the way through reminding yourself as you write that your word space is limited. When you’ve finished, you can edit and chip out any words that are surplus to requirements.
I often struggle with just writing through to the end. I want to be able to do it; it’s just that I always want what I’ve written to be instantly perfect, which I know is silly because perfect is an illusion, it’s not real. We can only just do our best. I do try though, and as I always say, I’m still learning.
Anyway, thank you for reading all of this if you made it this far. I do appreciate your valuable time.
Until next time,
© 2017 GLT