Why Writing Flash Fiction Is Far From Pointless


What are your thoughts about writing flash fiction? Be honest here. Do you relate more to Diana or Rachelle in the conversation below:

Diana: I stayed up way too late again last night writing flash fiction.

Rachelle: Flash fiction? Why? Don’t you have a novel to finish writing?

Diana: Yeah, I know. And I will. Really.

Rachelle: Di, you’ve been saying that for weeks! That novel is going to be your meal ticket. You’re going to make money on that thing! What’s flash fiction ever going to do for you?

If you’re completely on Rachelle’s side, don’t worry. You’re not entirely wrong. The girl’s got a point there.

If Diana wants to be a novelist, then she has to work on her novel. It’s Logic 101.

Then again, that doesn’t make Diana a complete novel-writing reprobate and ignoramus. Writing flash fiction definitely does have its benefits, and you can publish your efforts through traditionally or self-published anthologies if you’d like.

It might not make you as much money as writing novels. Then again, there’s no guarantee you’ll be making money off of those either.

And even beyond that aspect, flash fiction has a definite and immediate benefit that every writer can use. Every. Single. Writer. No matter their preferences.

Novels or short stories. Fiction or nonfiction. Business writing, blogging or just for fun.

Writing flash fiction isn’t something to shrug away. It’s something worth pondering… and maybe even exploring.

Remember when, back in Tuesday’s writing Definition, we covered how flash fiction’s “limitations might not be for everyone, but they do have a way of making a writer think”?

Here’s why:

Successfully writing a flash fiction piece will sharpen your writing skills.

It’s not just your creative abilities that get honed when you try out flash fiction. Though those are definitely in for a workout. But so is your analytical abilities.

Think about it. You’re telling a story in a very short space, which means you can’t waste any words. This forces you to analyze what you’re saying and how you’re saying it in order to produce a worthwhile narrative. See how that can better your “normal” writing?

There’s no room to use oftentimes sloppy vocabulary like “very.” A new plot detail can’t be “very interesting.” It has to be fascinating. Or incredible. Or captivating.

Likewise, there’s no room to ramble on about setting or atmosphere. It needs to be established succinctly yet effectively, making your creative workout that much harder – and your creative muscles that much stronger.

If you want to call yourself a writer, you have to exercise your creative muscles. That may have only been true for fiction writers once upon a time. But the nonfiction writing world has become much more conversational these days, changing the game.

That aside, even the most old-school academic writers can benefit by writing flash fiction.

Flash fiction forces you to analyze your writing in a whole new way. Due to your limited word count, you have no choice but to see your established sentences more critically than you otherwise would.

Is that word necessary?

Does that sentence deserve to be there?

Can that thought be rephrased?

Being human and all, writers of all stripes have a very bad habit of looking at their copy and seeing what they expect to see: which is what they intended to write.

That’s especially true after a round or two of editing.

If they meant to be funny, then they “see” a light, humorous tone coming off the pages – even if it's actually demeaning or dull. If they meant to be thought-provoking, they read exactly that from their text – even if they were actually longwinded or obnoxious.

That’s why editors exist, of course. And Innovative Editing is ready and willing to strengthen your copy in so many ways should you like to try it out.

It’s just that you can do a lot of strengthening on your own as well. You’re never going to be a perfectly analytical writer when you’re never going to be a perfectly analytical human. No one is.

But writing flash fiction can still take you much closer to that goal than you otherwise would be.

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