I’ve recently become fascinated with the phenomenon of “flash fiction,” that is, fiction that is ultra-short, anything from a single sentence to 1,500 words (although opinion on the upper limit varies). I’m presently enjoying reading an anthology of such stories called FlashSpec. Flash fiction is not to be confused with the notion of syphoning a scene from a longer work. Flash fiction is supposed to have a coherent plot, just like regular fiction. One skill is in deciding what material to show the reader and what to merely infer. Another is in composing vivid descriptions with a brutal economy of words.
An idea for a new short story struck me a few days ago. I started thinking about the complexity of it, and all the scenes I would have to include. And then I asked myself, what really do I want the reader to remember from this? And the answer was, I want you to remember the novelty of the idea and the twist in the tail. So I got on a different track mentally, figured out what I could summarise and infer, as well as what I wanted to show, and I began. I found that I took to the flash style instantly and had a great time writing the story. It’s also a nice feeling when you start something and finish it the very same day.
I showed the story to my friend Earl, who is often kind enough to edit my fiction. I was a little apprehensive about it, because recently he edited the first chapter of a novel I’m toying with, and he brought to light so many flaws that I started feeling deflated about the sheer scope of the task ahead. But it turns out that Earl loved this new story, and the only edits needed were minor ones. I may have found a style that suits me better than long-form prose.
Here’s “Mind Out of Time,” if you’d like to read it. Let me know what you think, positive or negative.
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