I was going to begin this post with the sentence “I haven’t written much flash fiction,” but I went and counted and see that I’ve published five flash fiction stories, and also have one more scheduled to be published this fall. So actually, nearly one-fourth of my published short stories have been flash fiction. I would have never thought that.
A short story is general considered flash fiction if it consists of 1000 words or less.
So with my own flash fiction, and also considering the fact that about half of the submissions I get at Theme of Absence are flash, I guess I could say I know a little bit about flash fiction. Which is crazy, because most of the flash fiction write, is written while working on novels.
Why, you ask, would I be writing flash pieces, while working on a novel?
Well, it’s sort of a compromise. While I’m working on the novels I want to be sure I still have short stories getting published occasionally, so I didn’t want to give up on writing and submitting new short stories altogether.
By writing flash fiction, I can take a break from the novels and get a first draft done in one sitting, so I’m not taking out too much of my novel-writing/planning time to work on the short stories.
Not only is it fun writing such short fiction, it can also be a huge learning experience. When you only have a thousand words to work with, you have to make every word count. Like, every word. (That last sentence would be omitted from a flash fiction story.)
Flash fiction is a great way to train yourself to follow two of the most important rules when it comes to writing.
- Seek and destroy all unnecessary words (Adverbs, I’m looking at you!)
- Start and end with an ultra-tight plot and eliminate anything that doesn’t directly affect the plot.
These are things I should already know, but seeing these rules come to life in such an obvious way by writing flash fiction helps me remember to apply them in all my writing.
So even though these rules are more mandatory in flash fiction and short stories, they apply to longer pieces, including novels, as well. And once I became more aware of that fact, it made me a much better writer.
When I was querying Holy Fudgesicles, one agent’s comment on the first 25 pages was “too wordy.” And she was right. Not only did those first 25 pages violate the first rule, they also violated the second, as the entire first chapter was unnecessary.
(For a fun fact, that entire 25 page section was eliminated in future revisions. Begin where the story begins, right?)
So in closing, if you’ve never written flash fiction before, try it. See what you can learn from it, and see if that exercise helps you write better novels. And if you like what you come up with, send me a copy. Maybe I’ll publish it 🙂
Good luck with your writing and check back tomorrow for another Five Links Friday!
Do you write flash fiction? How has it helped you with your novels? Leave a comment and let us know!