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For the Love of Flash

February 7th, 2020

When Diana kindly asked me if I would contribute to the WB blog I was a little stumped, considering my amateur status in the world of fiction, on what to write about. Recently, I have had success in placing in the WB Flash Fiction Competition, so with this in mind I thought I would share with you why I think writing flash fiction is invaluable to any aspiring writer.

With a word limit tending to range between 200 – 1000 words, flash allows you to lay down a complete first draft in one sitting, often in under twenty minutes, so you can create a fully formed piece of fiction in your lunch break. You gain a sense of accomplishment and are well on your way to having a piece ready for competition or publication. More importantly (for me at least) you are able to go through the complete writing process in miniature (re-drafting, proof reading etc.)  building on skills like editing, that you may rarely get to use when writing in longer forms. In going through the process, I’ve found that I enjoy the re-drafting more than writing the initial draft. This has given me more hope in completing the first draft of my novel, which (as I’m sure some of you have found) can be a painful process. At the end of the week you could have a fully realised piece of fiction ready to go.

Flash is also a great way of compiling your ideas – such as for a character or scene – that you have not yet formed into an idea big enough for a longer piece. By writing the idea down in a short but complete piece of fiction you will be able to explore voice, tone, character etc., developing your ideas on a small scale so that when you come back to it with a larger plot you already have a more rounded framework from which to build and with notes far more memorable than: “serial killer eating a ‘family’ meal”. It will also help you to write complete scenes in your longer fiction, each one being a story in itself. Plus, you will have a polished piece of prose to send off for publication or competition, giving your practice and ideas gathering far more value.

The restricted nature of flash means that every word has to contribute something. You will learn to be ruthless in editing/re-drafting and to keep your prose concise; there’s no room for waffle, with description often becoming more eloquent and evocative in its simplicity. Don’t use three words when you can use one.

You will never earn your fortune writing flash, but it is such an accessible route to publication – which will be a confidence boost if nothing else – and many of the flash competitions I’ve seen have prizes of the same value as more traditional short fiction.

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to have a go.

 

Jim Goodman is from London but has recently moved to the Herefordshire countryside. Although he has been a horticulturist for his whole professional career, he has rekindled his passion for writing, enrolling on the Writer Bureau Novel and Short Story Writing Course in 2019 and hopes to pursue a career in fiction. ‘Family Meal’ is the first piece he has submitted to a competition and he is currently working on a novel.

 

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