Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tips for Writing Speculative Flash Fiction

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I write flash fiction and novels. For whatever reason, I prefer to write stories under 1,000 words or over 50,000 words. I’m trying to get into writing longer short stories, but there have been many fits and starts in that realm. So, until then, I’ll stick with flash fiction. Some people may think it’s hard to flesh out speculative ideas with so few words, but it can be done! In fact, drabbles (100-word fiction) have their roots in science fiction.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out to write that super short speculative story.

·        Word choice is everything. You know not to use a fancy word when a simple word would do, and that’s still true. But, with so few tools to get the essence across, often a simple word won’t do. You need every word to pull its weight and add to the feel and exposition of the story.

·        Keep it to one scene. At least at first. Once you feel comfortable with the format, you may want to try more scenes to really challenge yourself.

·        Leverage common themes. If a two word phrase can pack an informational punch without being trite, then use it!

·        Solve the puzzle. I think flash fiction (and tweet writing) really appeal to me because word limitations make writing into a puzzle. What is the exact combination of words that is going to get this story across in only 1,000 words, 100 words, or 140 charecters!

If you’d like to see an example, I've included a drabble I wrote below. It appears in 100 Worlds: Lightning-Quick SF and Fantasy Tales. And if you want some quick feedback, I give free flash fiction critiques to my subscribers

Happy short writing!
My toes curl over the edge of the wooden plank. Splinters snuggle. I wish for any other breed of execution.  

Give me the elves’ fatal pinpricks. Let my brain rattle into madness from the fearsome fairies’ devious conundrums. Please, hang me by the great spiders’ sinewy threads. Grant me the privilege of seeing the giants’ grins before their fists pummel me. 

I want anything but this.

They know that.

That is why a vat of vindictive vermin broils below. That is why hot droplets spew and slap my feet. 
That is why fingertips rest on my back, ready to push.

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