Aside from the odd challenge, I've stayed far away from flash fiction, and I've rarely written anything under 50,000 words. In fact, Daydreams and Myth contains most of the short fiction I've written before starting the Flash Fiction Friday series here on the blog.
Why? Well, I had this notion I wasn't a writer who could produce good short fiction. I had a habit of getting long winded, and plots grow faster than I can write them down. I never felt inclined to try and trim myself back, and I considered it more or less wasted effort.
While re-editing "From the Ashes" and writing "Variable X" for Daydreams and Myth, I realized how this "compressed" form of composing fiction could sharpen my prose skills. Plots have to be kept simple. Characterization has to be on point from the first paragraph, and you have to dive right into the conflict. Short fiction has no room for fluff.
After discovering what a difference writing shorter could make to my understanding of the writing craft, I decided I wanted to do it more often. Then I found myself getting bogged down in the "winter blues" again last month, and I stopped making progress of any sort for a while. I started pledging to publish five posts a week across the three blogs I run in late January, but I had a bit of trouble coming up with enough topics for this one without getting repetitive. So I had the idea of writing flash fiction from a random prompt.
Each week, finding inspiration from the prompts is becoming easier. Writing the short pieces is becoming more natural. My imagination is reigniting and becoming stronger from the renewed exercise its undergone.
These benefits are spreading beyond writing Flash Fiction Friday posts too, which is the most exciting part for me. I'm hemming and hawing less and getting to the point more in the longer forms. Inspiration and imagination flow more freely when in regular use, so I'm finding I get stuck less frequently. I'm still perhaps a bit slower than when I'm at my best, but I'm more consistent these days. It's amazing how slow and steady can add up faster than sporadic bursts of productivity over the course of a few weeks. Steady progress always wins in the long run.
Then, of course, there are the other benefits of these weekly exercises. While they're originally written in a condensed 500 words or less form, I sometimes have bigger ideas than can be expressed within the confines of flash fiction. As I mentioned earlier, I want to write more short stories, and I'm thinking about producing more collections between novel releases. I'm thinking about taking those short changed stories, expanding them out to the full two to six thousand word stories I feel they should be, and rereleasing them in collections.
The flash fiction will continue, and all the previous stories will always be available here. But if you find some leave you wanting more, maybe you'll be able to find it within the next collection. In any case, I'm enjoying the series and the lessons I'm learning while producing it.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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