I was having an online chat with my writing buddy, and fellow Project 13 collaborator, the immensely talented J T Harrell.
JT was telling me how he'll initially attempt to write out a story idea as a 250 word piece of flash fiction. If he manages to get to that limit, or below, then the story stays as a piece of flash fiction. If it just can't be done then he sets about writing a short story, or possibly even a novella.
It's an interesting technique / process.
The feisty fellow also laid down a flash fiction challenge: Write a max 250 word story. The theme was voyeurism, but we agreed we were able to interpret voyeurism in any way our muses demanded.
Prior to the challenge I'd never managed to finish a story in under 600 words.
The challenge turned out to be a great piece of creative fun.
It wasn't without it's frustrations. I aborted the first attempt. I was thinking about it too much, trying to be too clever, and failing.
I then did what I usually do best. I emptied my mind and just wrote. Those who know me well will tell you there's not a lot to empty!
The end result was "The Man on The Train" completed in 220 words. I doubt anybody would call it a masterpiece. It isn't. But it's very me. Simplistic and above all it's tongue in cheek. Nothing more than a bit of fun.
Creatively, I took a lot from the challenge. 250 words isn't much. I found myself ruthlessly editing. If a line of prose wasn't moving the story forward then it became history. I loved some of the lines I had to delete. I can honestly say that I've never been so hard on myself in any previous story edit. It was a real eye-opener and I know that all my future edits are going to benefit.
I doubt I'll work in the same way as JT but I wanted to share the experience.
JT came up with a story that had more depth than mine. A kinky tale about a blind man who shares his wife with a sighted man. The sighted man has to describe what he's seeing as the blind man's wife reaches her climax. I loved the concept. As a writer it's an idea that can be tackled in many ways. My only complaint is that he thought of it before I did.
I'm beginning to understand, and appreciate, flash fiction to a much greater extent.
A lot of the story can be outside what we see on the page. The trick is to use the right words to make it so.
I won't be neglecting the longer short story, but I can see my flash fiction output increasing.
M J Wolfson - That's me.