Ten Flash Fiction Tips for the Flash Curious on Creative Indie

Are you flash curious?

by Nancy Stohlman

Read the full article on Creative Indie

An excerpt:

There’s a revolution happening in literature: writers are going short.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve already heard of flash fiction, those tiny, compressed stories flourishing in the literary underground. Writers and readers are falling in love with the form and discovering something delightful and poignant in these small spaces.

Originally called sudden fiction, microfiction, nanofiction, or short shorts, flash fictions are ultra-compressed stories following only two rules: they must be under 1,000 words and they must tell a story. The result is a miniature narrative that creates an entire story experience in just a few well-placed brushstrokes. And the stories, far from trivial or lazy, have their finger on a new kind of urgency.Carving away the excess, flash fiction puts the short story through a literary dehydrator, leaving the meat without the fat.

This is an exciting time to be a flash fiction writer.In my book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, I explore how flash fiction has successfully broken the old story out of its skin and transformed it, cultivating not only a new kind of story but also a new kind of writer.  

So, whether you are flash curious or a flash veteran, here are 10 of my best tips as you embark on (or continue) your flash fiction journey.

1. Become a beginner. This goes for any new artistic endeavor, but if you’re a poet, or a novelist, or even new to writing, embrace the glory of being a beginner. There will be an adjustment period, and that’s good! It’s so much easier to take risks and lower expectations. And when expectations are lowered, the real beginner’s magic can slip through the back door. Allow yourself the possibility of creative play—and creative discoveries.

2. Respect flash fiction as its own form. Flash fiction is not the bunny slope to something harder. It is not easier or less powerful or less profound just because it’s small. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. The bonsai tree is a marvel in miniature, requiring an entirely different set of skills. And just as learning from other genres can strengthen your existing work, learning from flash fiction will make you a better writer, regardless of your preferred genre.

3. Just because it’s short doesn’t mean it’s flash fiction. A lot of things are short—vignettes, character sketches, prose poetry. These may overlap with flash fiction, but they aren’t interchangeable. Prose poetry is a poem using sentences. Flash fiction is a compressed story with a narrative arc and movement. When in doubt, see rule #2

4. Don’t try to butcher a longer piece and pass it off as flash fiction. You might be able to pull this off one or twice (I did), but it’s a little bit like adding line breaks to a story and calling it poetry. Ultimately you want to start seeing the world through a flash fiction lens, noticing the potential for stories everywhere and honing your radar for great flash material.

5. The word limit matters. At first you might feel like you are battling the word limit. Eventually you will realize the word limit is the necessary container that allows the magic to happen. Without constraints, the story can expands in all directions like an amoeba. Strategically pushing against the constraints, the story realizes itself as flash fiction. Once you embrace the constraint as a vital part of the process, it won’t be an issue.

KEEP READING HERE

The Seasons of the Creative Process

I’ve said for years there are few things I trust more than the creative process. The sun rises, the sun sets, the tides go in and out, and the creative process ebbs and flows…and ebbs and flows again.

I share this now, at the dawn of spring, because it can be tempting to take a snapshot of the creative process rather than seeing it as a continuum. When we are deep in winter here in Colorado, I take solace knowing that the Earth inevitably turns, and winter will soon be followed by spring. And conversely, when I am deep in the luxury of summer, I try to remember that it, too, will not last. 

It can be helpful, if you plan to have a long, creative life, to view your process like this. To roll with the changing seasons of our art. Periods of furious creation are followed by a slowing down as we recuperate. And those fallow periods are followed by new sparks and new creative discoveries…if we remain patient and trust the process. The key in any season is to embrace that cycles come and go. When we are in the creative mania stages, it can be hard to remember winter is coming. And when we are fallow, we may not recognize the new seeds germinating.

The more times you go through this process, the more you will start to trust that every season will retreat…and eventually return.

This cyclical nature is especially important when you are feeling creative FOMO (fear of missing out) or artistic jealousy. Your creativity is turning, always, but so is everyone else’s…on different cycles. Someone might be doing a lot of publishing outwardly, but behind the scenes they’re fallow. Someone else may feel insecure that they haven’t published lately, but they’re writing a masterpiece behind the scenes. 

Bottom line: It’s counterproductive to compare July to January. Instead, wherever you are in your creative process, remember you are turning and spinning, facing and retreating from the sun over and over. 

If you wait long enough, it will always be summer. 

To your beautiful, flowering creativity,

xoxoxo

Nancy

P.S. Speaking of seasons…are you ready for a flash fiction retreat in Iceland’s darkness? Early access to registration opens tomorrow!

The Green-Eyed Monster: Jealousy in the Time of Quarantine: Nancy Stohlman guests on Jane Friedman

Read full article on Jane Friedman.com

An excerpt:

One good thing about a year’s worth of quarantine? A lot less FOMO. We’re less afraid of missing out because everyone is missing out. We aren’t worried about being left off the guest list because there is no guest list. And for many of us who were trying to be everything to everyone, this has been a huge relief.

But…now that our attention and focus has been narrowed even more tightly to the screen, we might be noticing a different kind of FOMO creeping up. We’re maybe noticing there are other writers doing a lot during quarantine: publishing or producing with a seemingly endless supply of creative juice, while the project you were working on was cancelled, or postponed, or just feels irrelevant now in this plague world. Maybe all your writer friends seem inspired and you’re stuck. And you feel that nasty green-eyed monster putting his hand on his hips again.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that, despite our very best efforts, artistic jealousy affects us all at one time or another. If you’ve never felt the green monster, then you’re a better person than me. Mind you, I genuinely like my colleagues and I want them all to succeed. Most days I subscribe to the “we all win when we all win” mentality, and I truly believe it’s the only way to have a long, rewarding artistic life.

But… no matter who you are, there is probably somebody out there who is kicking more butt than you, and it seems to be happening effortlessly.

What to do about it???

KEEP READING HERE

Going Short wins a Reader Views Award!

While I am obviously THRILLED–I truly believe this award also belongs to all of you. THANK YOU for supporting this quirky little book.

And most importantly, this is a WIN for flash fiction!

Thank you Jude Higgins and Ad Hoc Fiction! Thank you Becky LeJeune and Sandra Bond! Thank you Janice Leagra and Maiya Winter! Thank you Samantha Lien!

It takes a village. I love you all. xoxo