Monday, 17 January 2011

Trying to Write Flash Fiction...

Flash fiction is a complete story in a shorter form 250-1,000 words, though the latter figure would be a short story in some markets.

As one of my writing resolutions for this year is to enter more competitions, I thought I'd start with the Brighton Cow 250 word competition that I mentioned recently.

Only once have I ever managed to do well with this very short story formula and that was because the character, Lola de Cortez (Positive Exposure) almost jumped out of my head and whacked me around the ear with her steel re-enforced corset. Since then I've struggled.

So with a deadline of the end of January I need to get on...

Knowing a number of writers who are very good at creating stories in 200 words, I asked them for any tips they could give to help me improve- or at least work out where I'm going wrong (I think it's characterisation again).

I'm very grateful to AJ Humpage who has kindly allowed me to reproduce the summary of her blog post on the subject. While she writes a darker form of fiction, the advice still applies whatever your subject or genre.
If you'd like to read the whole post with further explanations and I'd recommend it, you will find it here.

Otherwise here is the summary of the main points to aim for when writing flash fiction.

  • Use a great opening line or hook.

  • Use a powerful image for your story.

  • Keep the reader guessing - Include a twist at the end, if possible.

  • Be tight, be concise – limit adjectives and adverbs.

  • Brevity – can you use fewer words?

  • Beginning, middle and satisfactory ending – complete the story arc.

  • Edit and revise.
So armed with this valuable advice I'm going to look at what ideas I have jotted down in my notebooks and see if I can produce 250 words...Then the hard work really starts with the revision.

Next month I'll tell you whether I managed it and whether it was sent off in time.

6 comments:

Helen Baggott said...

Good luck!

AJ Humpage said...

Even though only short, spend as much time revising and editing your flash fiction piece as you would a short story and you will come up with a fine finished product. Good luck!

Kate Kyle (scribocin) said...

Writing a complete and satisfying story in as few as 250 words is an art I've been trying to master for a long time and I'm still nowhere near my goal.

thanks for the post Carol and good luck with your story :)

CarolB said...

Thank you all for the good luck wishes.
I will be happy if I can get a completed piece ready, suitably edited and revised until it can't take any more...

Kate, yes there clearly is an art to the process. Good luck with your continuing endeavours.

Pixie J. King said...

I'm blessed with the fortune with starting out writing 200 words flashes, so lengthening is the real challenge for me!

Still, it is an art...so Good Luck!

CarolB said...

Thanks Pixie. I'm sure you'll find the extra 50 at some point.