Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quick isn't Easy

By quick I mean, Flash Fiction. Some might consider having a 1,000 word or less story to be easier because it sounds easier than say 90,000 words, but trust me: it's not easy.

(image from flashfiction.net)

Maybe it's just me. Then again, I've already admitted that I'm not really a short fiction writer. I write novels and more often then not they are two or more book series. But I started out by trying to write short stories and flash fiction back when I first signed up on writing.com in 2005. So, why haven't I sold any of them? Well, I'm not very good at that. I write scenes instead of stories because the truth is I'm a novel writer, not short story or flash fiction. But it's a good, not so quick, topic for today.

What qualifies as flash fiction?
The general rule is 1,000 words or less. Once it gets below 250 words then it sometimes can be called micro fiction instead but some of those stories may also qualify as flash fiction. Some will allow a maximum of 1,500 words, so make sure to read the guidelines before submitting a story.

Basically, it is a story in very few words. While it is minimalistic in word count, the story involved still has to be something someone reading it would consider as a full story. It will still have, a beginning, middle and end. There is a plot, characters and even setting. More often than not, the prose isn't overwritten as it's hard to get everything within the short word requirements, which means that tight writing is key.

The plot in a flash fiction is just as important as any other length of story. That is usually where I mess up, however. And I'm going off reader and editor notes when I say this. My short fiction plots are too big for short fiction. Even on an alien story that was less than 1,000 words and I never planned to write anything more, the plot was too big. The editor suggestions was to make it a novelette or novella at least. I try to write short fiction but they always end up as scenes for potential future novels. It's to the point where I think my current novella is going to end up as a novel too.

So, at least for me, short is not only very difficult but almost impossible for me to do no matter how much I try and I've been trying for at least 5 years.

Flash Fiction Web Sites:

Do you write flash fiction?
Do you read it?


Justin W. Parente said...

I tried my hand at flash fiction just recently. Wrote something totally unlike what I normally write and sent it off on submission on impulse. I'm curious to see where it leads. May try more flash fiction in the future, too. I find it's easier to develop when you're on a really, tight word count deadline.

That's just me.


Jolene Perry said...

I need AT LEAST 65,000 words to tell a story. People who do it in less amaze me.

Trish said...

Oh Lord, I can't think of anything that would be harder for me, than to write flash fiction. My 100K novel came in at 115K.

I can just see my flash fiction piece coming in at 35K. lol

Mysti said...

I've written about three flash pieces so far, and one got a top 25 award from Women on Writing's summer contest. So, now I'm hooked :)