The more I study the writing of flash fiction, the more I realize how supple as an art form flash fiction really is. You would think that because flash fiction is so short, it would restrict what a writer can do.
Well that is not true at all.
Flash fiction is an artistic discipline like any other art form. Every artistic discipline has its parameters; but within those parameters is all the freedom of movement an artist needs to practice that art form.
Yes, flash fiction is short, but if you know what you’re doing, the form will give you all the freedom you need, all the freedom you could possibly want. Flash fiction demands that the writer focuses on what he or she is trying to say. And that’s a good thing.
What are these 10 steps to writing better flash fiction? What do I look for in the submissions I read? Here they are in no particular order. This list is not meant to be a bunch of hard, fast rules. They are just parameters, something to make you think as a writer. Beyond everything else, a writer must think. And then create.
- A writer can’t put much characterization in a 100-word flash fiction story. But the longer the story, the more important characterization becomes. There are flat characters, full characters and dynamic characters. A flat character has no internal conflict or doubt. A full character has internal conflict or doubt. A dynamic character not only has internal conflict or doubt but he or she also changes during the story. As you can see, the length of your flash fiction story will have a lot to do with characterization.
- Your story must have narrative movement. If it doesn’t, you’ve just written a sketch or vignette. Narrative movement can be something as simple or slight as your protagonist going from doubt to more confidence.
- A sex act is not a short story. Write the story first, then you can go back and put in all the sex you want to put in it.
- Dialogue always adds immediacy.
- A flash fiction story has in it all the same elements as a regular-length short story. Isn’t that cool?
- Write about what you know and then you can make the rest of it up.
- A flash fiction story is usually too short for a writer to put in it everything he or she would like to put in it. So what you do put in it must imply what you had to leave out. And if you do it right, the reader will sense what you left out. Or in other words, the shorter a flash fiction story is, the deeper it should be.
- Clarity. Clarity. Clarity. You never want your reader to get lost. You never want your reader to wonder what’s going on.
- If you put the right dots (words) in the right order the reader will connect the dots for you. The reader is at least 50% of the creative process.
- Be proud that you’re a flash fiction writer.
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