I’ve been thinking a lot about flash fiction. Flash fiction stories tell a complete tale – conflict, tension, resolution – but in less than 1000 words, sometimes as little as 100 words. Flash is a distillation of plot to its barest essentials. I love this quote: “Plot is the mechanism by which your protagonist is forced up against her deepest fears and/or desires.”
Forcing something into flash form strips away the hubris and reveals the humble truths. Hemingway’s classic six word story (“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”) is ultra-flash, showing that even when the story is almost entirely implied, it can be heart-wrenching.
My wise friend Ink, who accepts on going flash fiction submissions on his blog The Alchemy of Writing, recently suggested that queries can be thought of as flash fiction, causing me to re-think my query for Byrne Risk. After a flurry of re-writing, it still needs work, but thanks to Bryan’s suggestion and help, I like it much better. Authors often feel challenged by distilling an entire novel into less than 100 words, but there is much to be learned about the process of story by doing just that.
I’ve had several ideas for a new boy-centric MG story rumbling in my head, as well some ideas for MG short stories. I’ve beaten them back, insisting they need to get in line – I have way too many projects going already! But those ideas are stubborn.
Maybe if I give them expression in a flash, I can hope for some respite before that new novel elbows the other ones out of the way and demands to be written.
What do you do with your new ideas to keep them under control?