F – Flash Fiction: Discovering How To Be Brief

“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!)




1 Comment

Filed under exercise, publishing, writing

One response to “F – Flash Fiction: Discovering How To Be Brief

  1. Five years ago, I joined FridayFlash.org in pursuit of challenging myself. Learning to write a complete story in very few words has been the greatest asset to my skill set, and it shows in all my non-fiction writing for work as well.

    Concise is nice.

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