Chapter 158 – Writing Flash Fiction

I’m halfway through Feb-Flash now (two down, two to go) and already I’ve noticed two things. 1: I love writing flash fiction. 2: I hate writing flash fiction.

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When I think about flash fiction, I think about something that’s short and has been written fast. I don’t mean it has to be a complete free-write with no edits, but still something that has been written over a couple of days at most. The sort of “get a prompt, write a piece, check for worst grammar errors, done” fiction.

That’s what Feb-Flash has been like for me. I find myself a prompt on Friday, write the piece on Saturday (or Sunday), post it and that’s that. I do read what I’ve written and both of the stories so far changed slightly from what I initially wrote, but mostly I just poured my ideas on the paper and let them be.

I’ve written tons of short stories in my life (95% of which will stay in my hidden drawer forever) but not many of them have been written fast. I like to check back, re-read, think, ponder, wonder. Fix this word and that sentence. Add something. Take it back.

These days I mostly write long stories and novels. Most of the ideas I get these days are for novels. And I’ve let myself fall into that trap of only thinking up long plots instead of trying to go for something shorter.

Here’s where Feb-Flash comes in. (To be honest? I came up with it because I had no idea what else to write a post about that day.)

It’s forcing me to come up with something short. I only have a few days so I can’t mull over it too many times. I have to write what comes to mind and roll with it.

And it’s been quite liberating. It’s nice not to worry about every word and get stuck after every few sentences. I’m also allowing myself to write and publish something I’m not completely in love with.

Are my Feb-Flash pieces my best work? Absolutely not. But it’s still writing so it’s good. I need to train myself to produce short stories so I can write them better some day.

That’s the love part. The “it’s so nice to feel free and write whatever!” part.

Then the hate part.

I hate having no idea where I’m going or what I’m actually trying to say with a short story. Longer stories are easier because you have more characters and more time to explore the plot and themes. With flash fiction? It’s 500 words and you’re done!

I hate not being able to convey a message. I hate to have such a short, vague prompt that doesn’t immediately give me an amazing idea. But I also hate very specific prompts because then it’s even harder to hit the target. Maybe it’s a form of writer’s block where no word feels quite worth it.

What’s the big message behind my Feb-Flash #2? There’s a dog who loves another and is overjoyed when she notices him. It’s a nice moment, cute even, but it lacks the depth I’m used to.

I love writing flash fiction because it’s pushing me and it’s making me write. But I hate it because I feel I can’t write the pieces I want because I’m not sure how to. I’m hoping that by writing more flash fiction I’ll eventually learn how to make the most of those limited words to truly tell a story.

Time will tell if that’ll work out or not. But I’ll keep trying. Once Feb-Flash is over, I’ll need to figure out something else so I don’t drop the habit immediately.

Maybe a monthly flash piece? Would you be interested in that?

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