(Editor’s Note: This post was first published on 25 December 2013.)
How do you make the characters in your flash fiction seem like real people?
Readers know characters in your flash fiction are not real people. They’re characters. So, maybe the question should be, how do you convince your readers that your characters are based on real people?
First you must appreciate the unique quality of the flash fiction story. The flash fiction story is the perfect genre for presenting everyday life as most people live it in a very limited time frame of real life. Most people are not celebrities. Why do I mention celebrities? Because celebrities live lifestyles that most of us can only dream of. If you write about something outrageous in a flash fiction story, the situation screams that you’re making it all up.
Now let me digress here. I want to quantify what I mean by outrageous. I write flash fiction stories about everyday women, who do not want to be porn stars, doing their first porn videos. This is based on my research that in this age of the Internet, thousands of American women are doing porn videos every month; but they are not porn actresses. They’re everyday women who have made a decision that takes their lives in a new direction. Their decision and what it entails makes them average women in a flash fiction moment; just like you and me.
Write about everyday situations that can happen to anyone. Your goal as a flash fiction writer is to show how everyday situations can have an important impact on the lives of people who any of us can recognize as friends, family, acquaintances and ourselves.
All of us have had significant moments in our lives. All of us have made good and bad decisions that sent us off in one direction instead of another. All of us could be the protagonist or a character in a flash fiction story, even in an erotic flash fiction story.
So, there is no secret in making your characters seem like real people. Just remember, very few of us are celebrities; but all of us have had flash fiction moments in our lives.
Merry Christmas! This is the Old Soldier reporting from near the University of Pittsburgh.