Thursday, July 14, 2011


Can you write a complete story in 250 words or less? Yes, this is truly flash fiction at it's finest... Well, I have seen people write a story in 50 words or less, but yikes... I certainly haven't been able to do this. I can, however, pare my stories down to 250 words.

So, how do you make your character(s) come alive in a flash piece? I, personally, use dialogue. In a short piece, dialogue moves the story forward, conveys the character's point of view, and personality through their words. You don't have enough words to convey your characters movements, or even to describe the characters, but their own words can take you a long way if you use them wisely.

This means, no: "Hi, how are you." or "The weather's glorius." In college my creative writing professor, Daniel Keyes called this banal. Or as I took it to mean, unnecessary and boring. Keep your words pertinent to the story in short pieces. I think this even works in longer pieces, too. After all you don't want to bore your reader, no matter what you write.

Another trick is to select strong verbs. "The Grammar Doctor" explains this quite well. Try to eliminate sentences that use weak verbs such as "am, are, is, was, were, has been, etc." by replacing them with action verbs.

Eliminate adjectives from shorter pieces as these tend to tell rather than show. The "Grammar Doctor" gives some good advice from Mark Twain.

Don't edit while you are writing other than to keep in mind that you are not writing a novel. Edit when you are done and eliminate all non-essessentials to the story. It may need a bit of polishing up, but your flash fiction piece will be happier.

Since you know how to write a flash fiction piece enter this contest on "The Clarity of the Night" Blog: Elementals.


Diandra said...

I'm sure you know the six-word story by Hemingway (and in case you don't, here it is: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."). It is one of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read, mostly because there is so much potential for sadness in these six words, and the reader cannot help but think about the "what if"s...

Occasionally I try to stay below 100 words with a story, but mine are more fragments than "real" stories...

Rita L. Smith said...

That is a great six-word story.Slices of life or vignettes. Sometimes that is what I write too! Here is the link to the story I wrote for the contest.