I’m sure (almost) everyone can write a nice piece of fiction. But ever thought about presenting a story in less than a 1000 words? That my friend, is Flash Fiction. Yes, I know it sounds a bit…weird? But just so that you know it is one of the most sought after practices in writing fiction currently.
Writing Flash Fiction is an art. Though it has been around for quite a while, it has become popular recently with contests and enthusiasts spreading the word virally over the internet.
Flash Fiction is a form of very short story writing. The story is very concise, tightly written and crisp. Not much is revealed, so to say, but the form of a story (with a beginning, a middle and the end) is absolutely maintained.
Talk to a flash fiction writer and he/she would vouch that a hundred words are considered most apt. But people do like it to keep it within a thousand words.
Here are some tips you could use while writing flash fiction or short stories:
Topic: You should have a basic topic/ theme in mind. You could begin with something random too. But as a beginner, having a theme will help you develop it to its rightful climax.
Central character: This will help you keep the story sharp and crisp and revolving around the main protagonist.
Along with one central character comes the need to focus on the timeline and space. One setting or location is all you need. You don’t have enough time to tell the main protagonists’ entire life story- you need to only focus on the current scene and the changes that defines the story.
This also leaves no room for sub-plots or secondary stories. Novels can move around different themes at the same time- but not flash fiction. You need to stick to the central theme. This single thread spin is sometimes difficult- and sometimes the easiest.
If possible, if you can time yourself and beat it every time you sit. It would help you hone your skill even further.
Write the entire story first: Yes, you could begin by writing the entire story as you plan to. Then sit and edit the story to match the word limit you set for yourself. Do not forget the flow of the story –a beginning, a middle and the end. The setting, the characters, the conflict and the resolution should be weaved in carefully.
While editing - The main conflict should be harped on right at the beginning. Understand the word limit and if so desired- open with a bang to keep the intensity higher. You’ll be amazed at how much emotion and description can be conveyed by a story devoid of descriptive words.
Edit all that isn’t essential to understanding the setting, the action, or feelings of the characters. Remove modifiers such as “very,” “quite,” and “actually.” Be intentional about every word in the story.
No room for flashbacks or background stories: The theme and the characters, in flash fiction, need not give their identity proof to the readers. Things should be left open for interpretation. That adds a lot of thought and perception in the mind of the reader. Let the reader too fill in some of the blanks.
If you feel the need to give any backdrop, keep it as simple as possible and of course short.
Always remember: Illustrate (with words of course) the scene. This minimizes word count. Don’t “tell” the story. Come to think of it, no back-story or backgrounds required. Honestly.
Use minimal essential vocab. Crisp short sentences do the deal, and intensify the tempo.
Write in active voice: Limit the adjectives, hold the descriptive phrases – “show” as much – “tell” the least.
Bring the twist in the end: When a piece ends on an excitingly twisted climax, it gathers more fame. The moment you feel the story is done and you have to bring in the climax- just drop it in. Like an anchor. Suddenly. (Not abruptly mind you.)
Go for the kill with an unexpected climax. But don’t just plant it with no link to the story.
Yes, there is no need for an epilogue or a signing out note. Save it for a novel.
Practice this over and over again till you beat your score each time –with the word count I mean. When you feel confident enough post it online for your friends to read and comment on. There are a lot of online contests that will help you showcase your writing to the public.
These are just some basic tips to help you churn out better short fiction tales. Most importantly, you need to have fun while writing flash fiction. Leaving lot many things open to interpretation is quite thrilling in itself.
To sum it all: By practicing writing in an active, powerful form and cutting out all extraneous words, you can improve and tighten your writing in other genres as well. Remember, flash fiction is usually a story of a single act, sometimes the culmination of several unwritten events.
She opened her eyes, feeling the sharp pain in her right hand. Honey colored sunlight had filled the room and she could inhale the mellow fragrance of the morning Jasmine. She tried to smile but the pain intensified. Slowly she looked to her right.
The dagger was pinning her hand to the floor. Gary’s body lay still soaked in a pool of blood. His grip, now lose on the dagger. She wanted to scream and pull away. In a jerk of a movement she brought her left hand ahead, only to reveal the .357 Magnum, with no more bullets.
Next on, imagine writing a story within 100 characters (not words, characters!)
You shall be Twitter King/ Queen if you ace that!
Watch out for our CONTESTS this month. We shall ask you to flash your fiction too!