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Flash Fiction – Small But Perfect

November 20th, 2020

First, thanks to Sarah for last week’s post. She’s absolutely right about the need for perseverance,  and I’m sure that what she had to say will ring bells with many of our students past and present.

Once again we’ve got to the time of year when the Booker Prize winner is announced. First, though, here is the shortlist. I always look out for this because it usually provides a list of books that I can try to obtain through my library app or buy from Amazon.  I’ve heard quite a bit about Shuggie Bain and I think I might start with that!

If you’re getting bored with lockdown and want something to do, then why not enter our Flash Fiction Competition? It closes on 30th November and there are prizes of £300, £200 and £100 plus all three winners receive a Writers Bureau course of their choice.

I hope you’ll enter, but before you do here are a few pointers you might find helpful.

Know your theme  Before you start to write, you need to know what you want your readers to take away from the story – it’s theme. Doing this successfully is what makes a judge want to read it through again rather than tossing it straight onto the reject pile.

Plot  Give your characters a goal, something to achieve, an obstacle to overcome. Make life difficult for them. Make sure there’s plenty of conflict or tension. There has to be a definite plot, and if you use humour remember, there needs to be  more to it than just a good punchline. Focus on the pivotal moment!

Characters and settings  You’ve only really room for the main character; so keep the supporting cast to a minimum and consider restricting your action to one locality. Choose your words wisely and you won’t have to write at great length to bring your characters to life and involve your readers.

The hook  Open with a bang, as close to the action as you can and provide the reader with a compelling reason to read on.

Show don’t tell  This is especially important with flash as you don’t have the available words to tell the reader everything they need to know. You have to show it using succinct dialogue and the characters’ actions and interaction.

Avoid back-story boredom  Keep the characters’ history and the events leading up to the present situation to the absolute  minimum. If it doesn’t impact on the story, don’t put it in. If it’s essential (are you sure?) use as few words as possible to put the reader in the picture.

And finally…

Is it really flash?  Not all stories can be condensed. If there is too much story to tell in the available word count, then all the editing in the world is not going to make it work. It’s better to write something completely new than trying to cut a 2,000 word story into something it was never meant to be.

My guest next week is Amanda Jane Davies who will be sharing some useful tips on a subject that we’re all preoccupied with – finding markets for our work.





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