Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

Stories make up their own mind!

Starting next week I will share some of the things I learned on my screenwriting course about the differences between writing prose fiction and writing for a more visual audience. But today I thought I would share about the wonderful magic of creation. Yesterday I planned a new short story for a competition and then thought I would write the opening scene to get me in. It turned out the story has other plans and decided it needed far fewer words (very unusual I have to say) and so formed itself into something flash! So I guess it wanted to be that. So off it will go to CafeLit then!

And off I go with my notebook deciding what to write instead for the competition!

That’s what I love about writing, it takes you to unexpected places… so have fun wherever you go today!

That is all. Happy Wednesday!

Bang

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Flash Bang Wallop!

I have written flash pieces from time and time and certainly have edited and selected flash for CafeLit; so it was nice to be asked by Cornerstones, that use me a lot now for critiquing short stories, if I was happy to mentor a client writing flash pieces 🙂

So it got me thinking. What do you like about writing flash?

Do you know what it is?

The word count is variable and can, in essence, be from one sentence like the famous Baby shoes for sale; never worn to close to 1000 words which is regarded as the cut-off. I tend to think of 1000 words as a short story rather than a flash piece, but it’s all in a name.

So what does flash do?

People tend to think that writing a whole story in 300 words, where brevity is key, is easy. In fact it takes some skill because it’s capturing the essence of the whole but distilling it into a moment; the flash moment. You need to capture voice (one voice), a moment when everything else before it has happened, so none of the pre-amble, imply this, and still create tension and surprise the reader. While I always say every word has to count in everything you write, and it does, none more so in this form. So it does require skill and time to get right.

So I might be talking about this in my writing group tonight.

So what about you, do you write flash and what do you think makes the best flash fiction?

Some people talk about it being part story, part poem, do you agree? I’d say it takes what the poets do well and that’s distil the surface of moments, they’re very good at taking the essence rather than the preamble — but I think flash is more story than poem. Do you agree?

There are certainly many markets for it, so it is becoming increasingly popular.

Here’s a 100 worder of mine:

Butterflies

Liliya stands at the door, fingers wrapped over a walking cane, watching Hana turn circles.

Ten pound notes flutter from the sky like butterflies.

In the house, an open newspaper, an obituary: Aleksandr Tastarov. Fifty years but still she remembers. She was Hana’s age, lying on the grass.

“Make a wish,” Alek said.

“Money,” she said, “falling from the sky.  No one has to be poor again.”

Hana has his eyes. Not that he’d know, or that he has a son. He was long gone by then.  He always said he’d be rich.

Hana catches ten pound notes.

Liliya wonders.

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

Send me some of your best flash!

And have a great week everyone!

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It’s all in a name …

I know, I know you are probably already beginning to hit the overkill with the news of the Royal Baby, although I am eagerly awaiting the first pictures and wondering about the name.

Waiting for your first novel to finally be published is a little like waiting for a baby to be born — maybe? What do I know? I think the pain comes a lot earlier though, right? Rejection before the sunshine?

And now we wait to see what it looks like — even if the name came long ago?

But what of the name?

I have talked about names before and I mean titles and characters. I really think names are important — just as they will be for any baby, in particular of course as future King of England. So what of names?

I have to know a name feels right for my characters and sometimes I look up the meanings of names to make sure they really fit and make sure they seem age or era-appropriate. I also make sure they don’t turn my characters into a stereotype. They just need to feel right.

I think I have told you before, but I will remind you that I was advised to change the name of my African-American psychic from Delores to something else as it had a stereotypical feel to it.I liked Delores and struggled to think of her as anything else — but as I was reminded Whoopi Goldberg played a psychic in Ghost (and of course an African-American one) and while that wasn’t her name in Ghost, it was her name in Sister Act  (but spelled Deloris, you can also spell it Dolores). So I could see why she said it. I had a whole list of names on my whiteboard but the one that won was Lydia and now I can’t see her as anything else.

Names matter.

I often read stories in my work where I feel the names are too ordinary and while in real life maybe that happens, in fiction you can be more inventive or perhaps you use the boring name as a way of saying something about characters? Or add a nickname that surprises the reader. If I read one more Sophie, just back from university ,the daughter of our generic older lady character narrator who sounds just like the author, I might have to let out a small scream! Okay maybe I am being dramatic — but it happens a lot! The name not the screaming — although …

Really think about your names. I love the opening to The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell who looks closely at names in a really humorous way.

So what about titles?

I think titles are also really important and as fickle as it sounds can also influence our book buying — really.

There is no copyright on titles so as in my novel there is another of the same name — I think I would only have changed it if the said novel bore any similarity in theme to mine — but it doesn’t. This point was raised by my lovely editor but it just had to be that title as it fit so well.

But what I would say is we have had to discuss the cover in conjunction with the title. Since it’s about a missing child if the cover just showed a little girl, a title like While No One Was Watching, could imply one of those — we have a secret, what happens when Mummy’s not home feel to it — if you  catch me. So it is important and this is more connected to how the book is marketed. I want my cover to say classy American thriller. We’ll see!

I find titles come easy and often I have it right away but other times I have no title when I start writing and it comes later. This is particularly true for shorts. Sometimes I change it as I write it but I always know when it feels right and thus far no one has asked me to change a title.

I grappled with title names for the Alcatraz thriller that begs for a rewrite — it’s never been submitted. It started life with various names and one that stuck for a long time was The Reluctant Clairvoyant which seemed intriguing. Then after an Arvon course I toyed with the idea of just Reluctant but that felt too literary and right now in its resting phase it stands at Isle of Pelicans since this is the meaning of the name for Alcatraz. I quite like that.  Who knows if it will change again.

Now before I leave I want to tell you about the CafeLit 100-word challenge. I was prompted by the Reader’s Digest, a couple of years ago to write a few pieces of flash in EXACTLY 100 words. I am not really a good flash fiction writer so I used existing stories and wrote them in 100 words. I have a few and I used one of the CafeLit website yesterday: http://www.cafelit.co.uk/Butterflies.html

I then asked for more and a little flurry came in. So why not have a go?

Here’s the link: don’t submit to this blog, submit as instructed in the link and I will pick it up!

http://www.cafelit.co.uk/100WordChallenge.html

So I thought I would post another one of my attempts here. It’s more like a snapshot of a story but if you can show the conflict and get voice in 100 words you’re doing well. It’s a great exercise if nothing else.

Come on, even some of you non-writers could have a go at this and I will take contractions, as in he’s or they’ll as a single word since Word does. And the 100 words doesn’t include the title.

Have a great day everyone.

 

Cracks

 

If you step on the cracks you disappear. It’s what Mum used to say.

Kids believe anything.

I’m standing outside Morrisons watching some woman herding brats across the car park, while I wait for a line to turn blue. Or not. It’s in my pocket. Couldn’t see it in there: fluorescent lights.

Darren’ll be with Brit – bunking Maths. Thinks I don’t know.

LOSER.

I think about what Dad’ll say, then try to unthink it. Since Mum died he doesn’t notice things anyway.

I slide my shoe forwards.  I wish Mum was here.

Then I step on the crack. And wait.

©Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, 2013

I write because ...

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