Before I explain how to improve your writing with flash fiction, I will explain what it is. Flash fiction is a fun and creative way to improve your writing, but it can be a challenge. If you haven’t heard of flash fiction, it is short fiction, which challenges writers to create stories with very small and specific word counts. Flash fiction forces ingenuity and makes writers value every word they put into their writing.
Typically, flash fiction will always be under 1,000 words. There is usually a specific word count, often somewhere along the lines of 750, 500, 250 or 100. Many people often start out at 1000 words and then will decrease that limit for the next story. It gets more and more difficult as you lower your word count.
Brevity is the point to flash fiction. It helps you see which words in your writing are just filler words and helps you restructure your sentences to get your point across quickly and clearly. When you are just starting out, try writing as you normally would and then go back in with your editing pen and go to town. It is truly amazing how much can be eliminated before you need to worry about sacrificing clarity.
The goal should ultimately be compression. The difficulty is having to change your usual style and structure (possibly completely) in order to tell a great story in as few words as possible. This is where it becomes a helpful tool for all writers. Not only each sentence, but each word can carry a great amount of weight in your story and figuring out how to rid your writing of any words or sentences that do not carry any weight, can make your work that much more potent.
In order to be successful in writing flash fiction you need to experiment with implied concepts. By that I mean, structuring your sentences so that single word, or a few words combined, implies one or multiple other things. For example, you may have heard of Hemingway’s six-word story. If you haven’t, here it is:
While this is an extreme model of flash fiction, you can look at this as an example of how much weight each of your sentences need to carry. These six words carry so much emotion and history within them, which is what flash fiction is all about. Every word needs to be powerful but still leave something to be desired.
So try it out for yourself. Give yourself a limit. Maybe just start out with 1000 if you’re new to flash fiction. Write your story first, without worrying too much about word count and then go back and compress. Add weight to your words. Figure out how to imply concepts instead of writing them. You will end up with a better and more interesting story, guaranteed; and, it’s fun!
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Writestream Publishing contributor Kristyn Fetterman. Need help with writing, editing and the independent publishing process? Contact Writestream here to schedule your no-obligation consultation.