It’s easy getting lost in a long story filled with twists and turns. I love writing rich, layered stories that go on for 100,000+ words. But sometimes the creative tank runs out of gas and it’s hard to keep up that momentum. My trick for getting back into the groove is to switch it up by writing shorter stories. And when I say short, I’m talking short.
Because poetry and I have never gotten along (love reading and analyzing it, am terrible at writing it), I tend to gravitate toward flash fiction when I’m stuck on a longer piece of writing. Flash fiction rocks! The drafting process is very quick, the bulk of the work focusing on revision. My pieces are generally 1,000 words or fewer and I bang out a first draft in about an hour. Then I let it sit for a little before going back with the red pen.
I’ve become a much better reviser through working on flash fiction. Since every word really matters, it’s easier to kill off darlings and rework sentences. Actually, flash fiction is a lot like a word puzzle. You need to make sure the story is nuanced and compelling in as few words as you can put on the page. It’s a great way to focus in on what really matters.
So this is my challenge to you. One that I’ve sunk my teeth into over the past year. When you’re feeling intimidated or lost in your longer work, turn to flash fiction for a nice mental break. It doesn’t need to be something you take seriously. Just start a short “slice of life” story that has a definite beginning and ending. A boy walking his dog and musing on the goings on of his small town. A girl professing her love for her crush. A witches’ coven concocting their next spell. These stories can be about anything. As long as they can be told in under 1,000 words.
Try writing a few a week. I guarantee you’ll see that your dialogue becomes sharper and stronger. And that you are better at making decisions when editing. And the best part? You’ll have a brand new story at the end. One you can even submit to us, if you’re so inclined.