Tag Archives: theme

Flash Your Fiction

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.

Ex.: 
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.

(99 words)

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!

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How To Promote Your Writing

 

Writing is an enjoyable exercise, for most. It is a great way to express your thoughts and feeling with words.

And to garner appreciation for it just adds to the charm, doesn’t it? Further, the thought of “earning” a bit through your work sounds intriguing enough…true? The number of bloggers turning into writers speaks for itself. But not many writers/bloggers find it easy to promote their work. The key word here is “driving traffic to your site where you publish your writing.”
So I thought of putting together a simple list of things one can do to gather a bit of recognition, to begin with.

Attractive Blog Page
Once during our Marketing session in college we were told: jo dikhta hai who bikta hai. (One (product) that is seen is the one that is sold.)
So to begin with, make sure you have a decently attractive blog page. There are a lot of blogging/writing platforms available. WordPress, Joomla, Blogger, Blogspot, Drupal etc., and almost all of them provide members with easy plugins to further help you link it to social media sites. Choose the one that you find easy enough and start harping about your blog/writing.

Create a short and crisp (and may I add “killer”) bio or profile for yourself. Add a picture of yourself if you wish. Once people start liking your content/post, they do tend to read about you.
Blogging platforms also provide members with certain color and background themes to make the page more appealing. They also help with easy navigation layouts. This helps members to organize their blocks and make their “recent” or famed posts more accessible to readers. They provide space for certain ads as well. Easy navigation should be one of the key features of your page.

Do not forget to provide the RSS feed links for people who wish to follow you.

SEO and Link Building

Wise men have said: On the internet, Content is King! 
You have to churn out good, readable material. Know your niche, your strengths and your dominance. It will help you write superlative content.

And you needn’t be a techie geek to know the working of Search Engine Optimization. All you need remember is that SEO essentially banks on the structure of the content you put in. The content needs to be the one that readers are looking for. It needs to be of relevance to the readers to connect with. Make sure you keep the content current and update it on regular basis. This will help readers come back to your site and also share it amongst their friends.

Link Building refers to the back links your page is connected with. One easy way of doing it is by submitting to ‘bookmarks’. People suggest guest blogging and writing guest articles as an effective mean to creating and building back links.

You can also chalk out press releases and submit articles to promote your site. Make sure it has ample of back links to bring in readers.
Social Media Platforms
The mention of social media essentially pops two names in your mind –doesn’t it? FaceBook and Twitter. Yes, they are amongst the top ranking social media platforms to connect with people across the globe. And surely they are a great way to stay connected with people.

One major advantage of networking on social media sites is to help gather an audience and create more back links. You don’t really need to “know” people to gain popularity. Start networking and you’d be amazed to know how small the world actually is.

On FaceBook: You can link your blog/writing page to your profile information tab. You can create a Fan Page for people to “like” and enroll for updates.
Request feedback from friends and family regarding your post. Take criticism positively and work towards betterment.

On Twitter: Tweet in accordance to content relevant to your blog post or writing. Use keywords that work as links to your site. Be creative. Have fun. Tweet links to your content a few times during the day. Oh, don’t forget to re-tweet good posts to gather a good following.
Keep a track of what’s trending on Twitter.
Use hash tags, wisely please.
Place a re-tweet button on your post for people to talk about it.
Follow relevant, popular and interesting people. Reply to relevant, popular and interesting people.

Then there are other sites like LinkedIn (more professional), Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. The internet has millions of other blogging and community sites. Spend some time researching them and registering with them. Leave your blog post links at relevant junctures. This helps in generation of good will. Please make sure you don’t end up spamming. You have to look at it in terms of a long term investment. Make sure you don’t get in the “bad books” of people by spamming them unnecessarily.

Indulge in commenting on blogs you like and find interesting. The comments could be praising the blog post or adding value to the post. Writers can indulge in writing book reviews and posting them on relevant sites – like Amazon, Flipkart, GoodreadsBookChums!
Indulge in forum discussions on relevant sites. Register with forums that are of interest to you and interact with other members by answering their queries, if you can. Do this regularly. It helps in good brand building. Wherever necessary and relevant, leave links to your post.

 
Guest Blogging
It is always good to keep a check on the blogging community. Interact with bloggers/writers that have similar concerns and interests. Invite fellow bloggers to write on your site, and you write for them in return (with your by line of course). This free advertising bit helps in image building and gaining more exposure and visibility online.

 

Stay Active
Popularity doesn’t come in a day. It’s not magic. Unless of course you are controversy’s child. But considering how mortal we all are, there is a considerable patience we all need to hold for results to start pouring in.

You ought to stay active online and look for means to constantly promote yourself and your blog if you really want to stay visible and gain popularity. Always remember: Consistency pays.

 

Other Cool Stuff
Make sure you do something new each day. You’ll have something new to write about each day.
Get creative with video blogs and upload them on various portals. There’s YouTube, Tubemogul, etc. to experiment with. Check out Scribd. That might interest you too.

And if all this is still mumble-jumble for you…I’m around to help you.

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