I’ve taken several different courses on how to write flash fiction, trying to find one that will speak to me, but after each I remained mystified and couldn’t do it.
The best was from Mary Robinette Kowal who explained to me that flash fiction needs to have the same try-fail cycles as a regular short story but that in flash fiction some of those try fail cycles are in the past and are merely referred to. So a typical flash fiction piece might start at the point that everything else has failed and the character is starting the final try-fail cycle.
Holly Lisle also said something that stuck with me, a good flash fiction piece has a twist at the end, something that reverses the expectations of the beginning. That proved harder to do than to understand.
In my mix of things to do I’m working on a piece of flash that I like for an anthology of flash fiction. I’m almost done. I just need to edit it down by about 20% to be within the word count requirements.
At this point I have projects that need to have editorial comments reviewed and incorporated. I also have a few writing projects. I am working on Peak Love and fiddling with ideas for the SF novella/novel I want to have substantially started by October 15.
Through the magic of scheduling, I think I’ve found a way to balance editing and writing. I have a friend who can only write with me for about 45 minutes a day a few days a week. When she’s there, it’s all about producing new words because that way we can sprint together and compare word counts, which is a lot of fun. But the problem with wild writing in a non-stop sprint for me is that I eventually run out of material from my brain. But 45 minutes seems about perfect for avoiding that problem.
For the rest of my writing time I either edit or write a bit slower. What I am finding is that some prose requires a slower approach, particularly short works where every word counts and historical work where I need to keep looking things up. Writing that is heavily plot-driven or dialogue-heavy is easy to write fast. I then cycle back through and add texture and depth.
I’ve started writing short poetry to prompts and this is helping me connect into my poetic brain, which in turn is helping me write richer prose more quickly and improving my efforts with flash fiction. (That hint comes from Cat Rambo.) The poetry is strictly for play so I do that at night when I’m waiting for art to render, unless I have another project that is more pressing.
Hope the words are flowing for you, poetic or other wise. Be well, friends!