“A novel is just a story that hasn’t yet discovered a way to be brief.” – George Saunders
If there is one thing I’ve learned over my years of writing – in classes, for fun, for “work” – it is that I am quite verbose. Give me an essay to write in 3 to 5 pages, sure you might get 6, but there will only be one or two sentences on that last page. As you may have noticed if you’ve looked at my archives, I struggle to keep it brief even here. I’ve always said of myself, “a novel is easy, short stories – challenging, poetry – daunting, and haiku is right out!” So when I first learned about flash fiction, I thought, “Now that’s a format that could actually drive me insane”.
For those that are not familiar with the term, flash fiction is a style of short story that tells a complete story in 1000 words or less. And it’s not easy.
But, as you may have noticed, I love to challenge myself, so naturally I tried my hand at it. The initial draft took about… Oh, I’d say 45 minutes to an hour to write. It was so easy; it just flowed right out of my pen, and on to the paper in about 1500 or so words. For the next 2 to 3 hours I was editing – not my favorite part of the process – and feeling like I was simply gutting my story.
But in the end, I managed to get it down to 667 words. (I think that was including a three word title.) For someone like me, this is a great accomplishment, and still one of my best works. (Now, if only one of these magazine editors or competition judges would agree!)