This is a nice post for me to write after a brief break from the blog (I’ve been on holiday!) Remember a few weeks back, when I’d been nice and productive, I wrote that I had submitted a piece of Flash Fiction to an online publication (or ‘Microfiction’, if you’d rather)? It’s ok, I’ll wait while you scroll back and check. Well, last week it was published, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Obviously. It was published on Microfiction Monday, and you can read it here.
It’s my first publication. I don’t intend for it to be my last.
I like Flash Fiction. As a medium it’s in equal measures challenging and rewarding. For those unfamiliar with the style, Flash Fiction is the art of telling a story within a very limited word-count – often 100 words, but this can vary. I first encountered the style when I read Dan Rhodes’ excellent book Anthropology; a collection of microfictions detailing hilarious, disturbing and often touching depictions of relationships that don’t quite belong in the world as we know it (a book that I thoroughly recommend, and re-read on a regular basis). I have written several pieces in this style, and think that if a writer is serious about writing short stories they should try writing in this style at least once.
There’s a myth that writing Flash Fiction is easy because it’s short. Well, that’s not really true. Let’s face it, writers, as a species, tend to waffle. We pound out points, scared that our readers might miss some of our subtle clues, we occasionally get a bit self-indulgent and over-describe, we keep in ‘scenes’ that really don’t further the storyline purely because we feel that they include ‘some of our finest writing’ and are loathe to leave them where they belong – wherever words go when the backspace key is pressed. Good writers, of course, then go through a torturous editing process and trim away this excess as much as they can, but there is still wiggle room. With Flash Fiction every word counts.
It’s a good exercise in writing, to be able to look at a piece of word and search for those synonyms that will reduce three into one. It’s good practice to pour over every single line and paragraph to see what can be cut, what can be re-written. It’s a valuable lesson in remembering to trust the reader to pick up on the smaller cues. It’s habit-forming, and we all need to learn these good habits – it’s easy enough, after all, to learn the bad ones.
The satisfaction of being able to complete a whole work in a short space of time is pretty good for the ego too, I can tell you.
So, tell me about your thoughts on Flash Fiction – easy peasy or true art form? Let me know in the comments.