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Writer's Life: Flash Fiction Part I

Flash fiction is a great way to build your writing skills.  I’ve written a few, not as many as I should, as you would think the shortness of the stories would promote writing often.  This is how I figured out that I need to change something within to develop my writing practice.  I have to turn on a switch inside that drives me to write.
The definition of flash fiction is usually a story between 250 words (1 page) to 1,000 words (4 pages).  Under 250 the story is called a short short and over 1,000 words then the project is in the short story territory.  Do these monikers matter?  They do once you submit your story.
One of my biggest hurdles for writing is my low self-esteem.  I sometimes think that I really don’t know what I’m doing.  Then I go out and buy a lot of books about writing and do a lot of blog searches.  I’ve bought a couple of books on flash fiction.  One of them, and I don’t remember which, had material that wasn’t relevant at all and ironically didn’t have good word economy, which is essential to the genre.  I realized I did know more about writing than I expected.
And so, I will give some advice I have for flash fiction.  It really isn’t difficult to write.
Basically flash fiction is about the moment.  What you are doing is writing one moment out of a person’s or character’s life.  If it’s sci-fi the main character may not be human.  
Start with brainstorming and generate ideas for that moment.  For this I recommend The 3AM Epiphany and The 4AM Breakthrough by Brian Kiteley.  These books have writing exercises that can easily become flash fiction.  You could also Google writing prompts to get more ideas.  The books however help the writer think out of box and in the pages before and after the exercises Kiteley gives ideas on how you can develop your own writing exercises, ie. you can create your own flash fiction prompts.
Getting the idea for the story is the biggest part of the battle when writing flash fiction.  Once you have that and are ready for the next step in the writing process, it gets easier because you have some material to work with.  To summarize the key to writing flash fiction is to find the one moment in time that you want to write about.

In the next part of this series, I’ll go over the rough draft and the structure of the short story.


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