Flash fiction can be a lot of fun to read and to write, but many new and inexperienced writers assume that writing something short is going to be easier than writing something longer. This is not the case! Writing quality flash fiction is a craft in itself but can easily be mastered by following the steps below:
Read Before You Write
For any writer, reading other people’s work is one of the best ways to get ideas and start to understand what works and what doesn’t. The most important thing to do when reading as a writer is to think about how the story has been created. How is the story structured? What are we told? What are we shown? What are we left to figure out for ourselves?
Pin Down Your Idea
Flash fiction is short, very short, so there’s no time to waste words on complex plots, sub plots, minor characters and descriptions. The story needs to be pinned down to its basic elements with a single event, setting and character. Use that as your starting point and stick to it.
Create An Outline
Just because flash fiction is short, it doesn’t mean that you can take short cuts when it comes to planning. If anything, you probably need to plan more to keep the story tight. Creating and outline can help you to do this. Be clear about your beginning, middle and ending. Just remember that in flash fiction you need to hit the ground running and introduce the main conflict early on so that you can quickly build up to a climax. This is a complete story, not an extract, so make sure you don’t forget to resolve the conflict at the end.
Write Your First Draft
When writing your first draft, don’t worry too much about your word count. Get the story down to make sure that everything works. If you find yourself wandering off into complex sub-plots and multiple character developments, use your outline to bring yourself back into focus. Just makes sure that the story makes sense on its own when you’ve finished.
Edit, Edit And Then Edit Some More
Editing is the most important stage of writing. This is where you get to cut out anything that you don’t need and tighten up your sentences to meet the desired word count. As well as cutting out any information that doesn’t contribute to the story itself, it is also a good idea to try to tighten up your language, deleting any unnecessary words and phrases. Remember, in flash fiction, every word has to count!
The best part about flash fiction is that it is fun to write. So, if you find that your story goes over the word count and you can’t edit it down, don’t lose any sleep over it. You’ve just written a short story instead. And, if you have edited well, it’s probably going to pretty good too. The main thing is to enjoy it and have fun!