If you’ve never written Flash Fiction you’re missing out on one of the best tools to achieve what Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers are looking for, the art of Show Don’t Tell.
A major mistake when writing is to look at word count. We want to write a novel, or at least a novella, but that is where we fall prey to bad writing. I advise you to either turn off the word count on your writing program, or put something over it so you can’t see it. I have mine turned off.
Let the story tell the story until it’s finished. That’s your first draft.
After the first draft is when you begin to cut the fat out and get to the healthy parts of your story. For Flash Fiction, this means your story becomes shorter, tighter. That could mean the same thing for novel length writing as well. There is nothing wrong with writing every single thought you have, every scene you have in your mind during your first draft. You don’t know what might be the best for your final draft.
To write Flash Fiction:
- Write a scene as you normally would
- Then strip it down to under 600 words or 300 words, whatever the prompt or your goal is.
- If you can do this and still convey everything the reader needs to know and feel you have accomplished your mission and saved your Agent/Editor and yourself a lot of work later on.
How do you strip a scene down?
- Get rid of unneeded adverbs.
- Adverbs are okay sometimes. However, most of the time they can be done away with. “The boy casually strolled along the path.” Casually could be okay to use, or you might look at the word strolled and realize it implies a slow pace, a casual pace of walking. Another example might be “The girl abruptly stopped in the street.” The idea is the girl stopped in the street.
- Very and really are two overused adverbs.
- Write in an active voice, not passive.
- An example of an active sentence-The boy shot the ball.
- The same sentence in passive is-The ball was shot by the boy.
- Notice you have the noun directing the action instead of the result directing. With the active voice, there are two less words than the passive voice.
- You can set up your Word program in Microsoft to check for passive voice. To see how, click HERE for
- Remove unnecessary dialogue tags.
- If you have a conversation between two people and you have established early on who the people are, you don’t need he said or she said constantly. Keep in mind not to insert the name of the people in conversation early on to establish genders and the like. If you have a long dialogue exchange, I would insert a name in the dialogue or an action including the person’s name to reinforce the order of speakers.
- Write language not English.
- When you write conversations, write how people talk. You don’t need to have every person speak properly and according to your spellcheck and grammar check. We don’t all speak that way every moment of our lives, especially with friends.
We think more is better but in reality, it’s what you say and how you say it rather than how much you say that matters. Choose your words wisely. Close your eyes and just begin to type what you see of the scene and then come back and work it.
Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.
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