Today, I'm joined by Alyson Faye, whose going to talk about one of the most popular writing form for competitions – flash fiction.
I started writing flash fiction about three years ago, sparked off by my WEA creative writing classes. I took to the brevity of the form, whether writing 50 word dribbles - yes they're really called that; drabbles (100 word pieces) or 500 word pieces.
So what is flash? A fictional work of extreme brevity that still offers character and plot development- usually no more than 1000 words.
It got addictive and soon I was writing more of it, reading such greats as Lydia Davis and starting to send my flash out to online magazines. I have some included in anthologies too. The buzz when an editor accepted a piece was wonderful, but there were many rejections along the way too.
|Some inspiring members of Alyon's creative writing class.|
In writing flash every word has to work hard to earn its place in your piece. So edit ruthlessly.
Get rid of the back story and don't have too many characters - you don't have pages to expound in.
Start in the middle of your tale.
Show as much as you can without telling.
Did I mention editing? It matters.
I read about the opportunity to have a collection of flash published by indie publisher Gill James of Chapel Town Books (based in Salford) on a writer's blog (I'm not sure if this is where Alyson saw it, but I did blog about that one). I follow a few writing blogs - which I've found helpful. Gill operated a rolling programme of submissions and had chosen to focus on flash fiction. Gill asked me to send in 10 sample flash pieces. When she emailed to ask for the rest of the 'collection' I was thrilled. In all there were around 35 pieces some just 100 words; some longer.
There was some editorial input from Gill, and a discussion about the order of the stories, subheadings and the titling of those plus the pleasure of selecting a few possible cover images (off Pixabay) and writing the tag line for the front cover. I settled on 'A Collection of flash fiction- short tales, long shadows.' I agonised over those last four words- I wanted the tag line to hint at the stories' content. Gill wants all of the Chapel Town flash collections to have covers with a frame around the image - for cohesiveness.
I asked my WEA tutor Poet James Nash (who has been so supportive) if he would write a piece for the back of the book and I sent him a pdf to read. He wrote a wonderful paragraph. Plus of course there's the photo of moi on the back too.
Thanks, Alyson. I've tended to think of flash only in terms of small one-off pieces, so it's interesting to hear of them being used in a bigger project.
Btw, I've had a small success with flash fiction myself. I was runner up in this competition (which I blogged about a few months ago.)