The Problem With Flash Fiction

Since starting this blog, I have made a few attempts at flash fiction. Sometimes the results are decent, sometimes not so decent. I enjoy the challenge of getting a story in under a certain number of words, but I find it so, so hard.

I like to write. I like to write lots of words. I like to write so many words that boiling them down to 300 (the most common word count I've come across for blogfests) makes my brain hurt. How do you get a whole story into 300 words? I have no idea, but some people do it, and they do it very well.

Not me. I always get hung up on describing things, and before you know it my word count has been wasted on describing the actions of characters, the leaves on the trees, the way a character looks, but nothing has actually happened.

I understand the reason for the low word counts. You have a blogfest with 50-100 people writing stories. Nobody is going to bother reading a 1000 word story for each of them. I get how it makes me a better writer, showing me where I use words needlesly, and where I repeat myself (how I love to repeat myself), but I never get the story that I want to tell on the page.

What I usually try to do is just write a story and then start cutting bits and pieces off until I hit the magic number, but that doesn't always work. The story I put up for Spooktoberfest was the third idea I had, and even then, the story of Colby and Gabe ended up a ghost of its former glory. I could not cram the other two into that box.

Apparently there's such a thing as 50 word flash fiction, which to me is just a one-way ticket to Crazytown.

Comments

  1. Jennifer:

    I didn't think it was possible at first either, but here's one of the first challenges I did. 60 words and the prompt Sleepover. Try it, it's just a scene that tells a short story. Plus, it's really great practice, especially when the editor says 'cut, cut, cut.' I'm one of the wordy one too!

    SLEEPOVER

    Remnants of food litter the room. The song It’s My Party plays incessantly. I step over each girl in baby doll pajamas. Accusatory stares from light-less eyes. Their bodies pale in death.
    In the bedroom the prom queen sleeps soundly. The only evidence of her crime is a single drop of blood in the corner of her mouth.

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    Replies
    1. That's pretty good. I would take at least twice as many words (probably thrice, just to be safe) to say the same thing.

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  2. Hey,

    Check out "Janet Reid, literary agent" and her blog.

    Janet does these 100-word contests every now and again, and if you have the time to go back and see how others handle having to write 100-word stories with five prompts, it may switch on a light :)

    Good luck :)

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    Replies
    1. Checked out her blog and a few of the 100 word contests. Thanks for the tip.

      Delete
  3. I have the opposite problem. I think in grand ideas and can see the big picture, and have trouble with getting down to the details. It gives my very short pieces a very departed feel (in my opinion). So I envy your ability to fill scenes with vivid details. That's something I have to work on.

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    Replies
    1. I'm all about the details, but I often have nowhere to take them. I envy you being able to see the big picture.

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    2. Sounds like the two of you together would be the perfect writer!

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