Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Flash Fiction’

Flash Fiction and Speed Dating

In Flash Fiction, Writing, Writing Processes on April 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

Shell+ZoeyFlash fiction is like speed dating—it’s storytelling that is quick and to the point.

Speed writing is short and descriptive, while being deceptively complex in its tightness.

It’s a micro or mini version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the publication. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

An ultra short story, flash fiction is a style of fiction of extreme brevity with a definable plot pared down to the core of the story. It’s called micro-fiction, micro-story, skinny fiction, fast fiction, furious fiction, postcard fiction, short short, short short story and sudden fiction. It’s part poetry and part narrative.

To successfully write flash fiction, avoid fragmented storytelling. Tell a complete story with the traditional format of beginning, middle and end, making every word essential, without the extras. Retain the elements of storytelling, because otherwise it will become a snippet of a moment of a larger story or an episode without a theme or story.

I find that it’s best to write flash fiction in one sitting with one idea for a character or plot and work from there. Ask if there’s a point to the story, but don’t get too focused on theme. And write when you are in your own emotional moment, getting words out without worrying about word count.

Begin at the moment of conflict when most of the action is nearly complete, avoiding any kind of introduction or back story. Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the telling of the story. Focus on powerful images. And end with an emotional impact.

Once the piece is finished, here are some tricks to tighten and polish the work:

  • Get rid of adjectives and adverbs.
  • Get rid of unnecessary sentences and descriptions.
  • Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the story.

And remember, what’s left out is just as important. Be concise. Keep the essential details. Cut the rest.

(Note: My flash fiction piece, “Points for Senior Citizens,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming FLASH!, the second anthology in a series of collections of 100 short-short stories. The anthology is a Kickstarter project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1727584460/flash-fiction-anthology?ref=user_menu)

Writing Flash Fiction vs. Short Stories

In Writing Flash Fiction, Writing Processes, Writing short Stories on January 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm

What is the difference between flash fiction and short stories beside length?

First, flash fiction is a shorter version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the magazine or journal. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

Think of flash fiction as punchy and to the point, a story of extreme brevity with the plot pared down to the core of the story. Every detail, every character gesture, every description counts; each word has its place. Take one word away and the meaning is lost.

Short stories are more flexible, and unlike flash fiction, may take a couple of sittings to read. There is more space to develop ideas, plot, character and theme; there is at most, one plot and a small subplot or a plot and a half. Flash fiction shouldn’t be more than one plot and one theme.

Like flash fiction, short stories begin with a crisis or conflict right away and avoid describing the origin of the conflict or setting up long character histories. Short stories have one or a few characters and one or a few settings (limited in place and time, such as a day or a couple of weeks) and express a single theme, or message.

Flash fiction works off one idea for plot and character and, like a short story, tells a complete story with a beginning, middle and end with the elements of storytelling in place.

Writing both types of story requires writing that is clear, tight and concise.

To get that tightness, cut unnecessary descriptions, get rid of adjectives and adverbs, remove the word “that” and other empty words, and eliminate details that don’t matter. What may start as a short story can become flash fiction, or a short short, through the slashing of the unnecessary.

With both short stories and short shorts, show, don’t tell with the action. You want the reader to get in and get out and the emotional impact of what you’ve written to resonate beyond the words. Quick and short, they can have that lasting power.

(Note: My flash fiction piece, “A Wanted Man,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming “Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology,” a Kickstarter project. Check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Shoes-Flash-Fiction-Anthology/914714125235669).

Writing Flash Fiction

In Flash Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Stories on January 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

I love the term flash fiction, because it makes me think of storytelling that is quick and flashy.

It’s writing that is short, descriptive and to the point but deceptively complex in its tightness.

Flash fiction is a micro or mini version of a short story, though the length varies depending on the publication. It can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words or even 1,500 words, while short stories are defined as 1,000 to 10,000 words.

An ultra short story, flash fiction is a style of fiction of extreme brevity with a definable plot pared down to the core of the story. It’s called micro-fiction, micro-story, skinny fiction, fast fiction, furious fiction, postcard fiction, short short, short short story and sudden fiction. It’s part poetry and part narrative.

To successfully write flash fiction, avoid fragmented storytelling. Tell a complete story with the traditional format of beginning, middle and end, making every word essential, without the extras. Retain the elements of storytelling, because otherwise it will become a snippet of a moment of a larger story or an episode without a theme or story.

I find that it’s best to write flash fiction in one sitting with one idea for a character or plot and work from there. Ask if there’s a point to the story, but don’t get too focused on theme. And write when you are in your own emotional moment, getting words out without worrying about word count.

Begin at the moment of conflict when most of the action is nearly complete, avoiding any kind of introduction or back story. Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the telling of the story. Focus on powerful images. And end with an emotional impact.

Once the piece is finished, here are some tricks to tighten and polish the work:

  • Get rid of adjectives and adverbs.
  • Get rid of unnecessary sentences and descriptions.
  • Make sure every conversation, action and gesture is important to the story.

And remember, what’s left out is just as important. Be concise. Keep the essential details. Cut the rest.

(Note: My flash fiction piece, “A Wanted Man,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming “Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology,” a Kickstarter project. Check out the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Shoes-Flash-Fiction-Anthology/914714125235669).

See Zoey the Cute Dachshund’s blog, Zoey’s Paw, at http://zoeyspaw.wordpress.com/

Baby Shoes flash fiction

In Baby Shoes Anthology, Shelley Widhalm on January 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

This week, I’m going to share a bit of good news.

My flash fiction piece, “A Wanted Man,” has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming “Baby Shoes Flash Fiction Anthology.”

The anthology will contain 100 stories of up to 1,000 words by 100 different writers, including distinguished writers Danika Dinsmore, Joe Lansdale, Linda Needham and Walter J. Williams. The stories include fantasy, sci-fi, horror, literary, erotica and humorous and range from supermarket encounters to tales of coming back from war.

The anthology launched earlier this month as a Kickstarter project. It will be funded once there are enough readers for 200 to 250 copies for the e-book edition, while for the print edition, 500 to 600 orders will need to be made.

All of the writers are teasing their Facebook and social media friends about the project, explaining what’s involved and giving an excerpt from their story.

Here is the excerpt from the beginning of my 500-word story, which is about a woman trying to find love through personal ads. Here’s how it starts:

I crafted my personal ad as if some fairy godmother could wave her magic wand and usher in a tall, handsome man with blue eyes. This, I wrote trying not to think about Derek. He managed the front of the Sushi restaurant and I, the back. Sans ring, he rode the rollercoaster of those going through a divorce. His smile blew heat to my toes, causing my eggrolls to crisp.

To learn more about the anthology, check out the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Shoes-Flash-Fiction-Anthology/914714125235669