Making Every Word Count.
I love Flash Fiction. I’m editing a 90K-word novel, so mixing things up a bit and writing something short, snappy and totally different to what I’ve been working on all year, is fun, refreshing and a great workout for my writing muscles which are very much set in novel-writing mode at the moment.
I’ve been teaching lots of flash fiction classes recently, too. As a writing coach, it’s rare to present writing exercises that can be completed in a one-hour session, whether that’s a first draft or a polished product. I’ve loved reading everyone’s finished stories. I don’t have to wonder how something will end.
Flash fiction can be any length from a few words (the most famous example being: ‘For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn’) to several hundred words.
The idea is to tell a story in a few lines or paragraphs, cutting out anything extraneous. What do you want to say? What’s the most efficient and striking way of saying it? The line above about unworn baby shoes says so much in six simple words. It’s sad; it poses numerous questions; it's a story of desperation.
I particularly like setting flash fiction exercises where the word count is fixed. Where you have to write, say, exactly 50 words about running or a birthday party or the one that got away. Not a word more. Not a word less. That really makes you think as a writer. What can I cut? If I need to add two more words, where would they be best used?
If you want to make flash fiction writing even more of a workout, give yourself a time limit. 50 words in 15 minutes. 100 words in 30 minutes. Make sure there are no distractions; focus everything you have on those few lines.
Even if you’re not interested in flash fiction in and of itself, flash fiction exercises are a great way of waking up your writing muscles and coming up with something different – whether that’s a tone you normally avoid (write something mysterious in 50 words; something sinister in 100; something funny in 150) or a genre you’ve never tried (write a 100-word romance; spin a cosy crime mystery in 500 words; create a fantasy world in 200 words). There’s nothing to lose and lots – acquiring faster writing and editing skills; learning new and specific vocabulary; discovering you're a natural at a genre you've always avoided – to gain.
If you’re interested in any of my flash fiction workshops – there are many to choose from including several Christmas-themed flash fiction sessions – drop me an email.