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July 1, 2015

Flash Fiction To The Rescue! Find Your Way When You’ve Lost Focus

Flash FictionFlash fiction is a literary form that is characterized by its incredibly short length. Sometimes as long as a page, but frequently no longer than a single paragraph it is something like a prose version of a haiku.

Writing, any writing, is about getting to the point as quickly as you can and creating an effect in the reader.

While there are writers who write this type of fiction exclusively, it can be very helpful for novelists as well.  It is useful to practice writing dialogue, plot, description and any number of other things.

But it can also be very helpful when you’ve lost your way and don’t know what you are doing any more.

…And Then he stopped to go to the bathroom…

And Then he stopped to go to the bathroomWhen writing longer stories and novels we can easily get overwhelmed by various elements we are working with: plot, theme, setting, dialogue etc.

We may begin to add things that aren’t really pertinent.

“Then he stopped to go to the bathroom”…or “It was a lovely spring day…and, yada, yada, yada the dishes in the sink were dirty”…but, that really doesn’t matter…because it doesn’t add anything to the love story.

The World In A Droplet of water

The World In A Droplet of waterFlash fiction is a great way to clear out the cobwebs every now and then.

You can take a story you are working on and boil it down to its most essential elements to regain focus.

Let’s take a look at this very fine example from Flash-Fiction-World.com.

Snapshots of a Crash

Snapshots of a Crash11:00 I close my eyes. 10:55 Lights are coming right at us. 10:50 I put my hand on Kareem´s face, he bites my palm fiercely, and loses grip of the wheel. 10:30 His accusations and my explanations become an entangled sound mass, screaming and crying. 10:00 Kareem´s silence engulfs us. 9:55 The car speeds through traffic. 9:50 Kareem almost runs over an elderly couple. I turn my head and keep looking at them until they disappear into the distance. 9:30 My voice sounds alien, like talking under water, while I confess: “Yes, I slept with Carlos”.

This story, by Melanie Taylor Herrera, could just as well have taken 300 pages to tell but here it is in its most elemental form.

This story builds suspense by starting with the end of the story first.

11:00 I Close My Eyes 

This is an innocuous statement enough, nothing really special about it.

However, the power of the piece comes from adding sentence upon sentence…a compounding effect.

10:55 Lights are coming right at us

Gradually, this piece of flash fiction unfolds for the reader like a crash victim’s life flashing before his eyes until we finally see the cause that has set this chain of events in motion, and it hits us like an oncoming car.

Do you see how this exercise might be helpful in refocusing your thoughts when you have lost your way?

Here it was used with plot and dramatic impact. But it can be used with anything; setting, dialogue, description.

You name it.

So when you are stuck with a piece of writing, take a page from the flash fiction playbook. Try boiling it down to what you are really trying to say. Then gradually add things to develop the story you want to tell.

For more information on how to write, publish and market your novel online, click here.

About Jim Conway

Author and Udemy Course Instructor. About me; http://www.e-novel-advisor.com/about-me.html Udemy; https://www.udemy.com/user/jimconway2/

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