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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 she can publish her efforts through traditionally or self-published anthologies if she’d like.

She might not make as much money that way as writing novels. Then again, there’s no guarantee she’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 journaling. It doesn't matter.

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 in nature these days, changing the game.

Even if that wasn’t true though, even the most old-school academic writers could benefit by writing flash fiction.

It 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 written words more critically than you otherwise would.

Being human, writers of all stripes have a very bad habit of looking down 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 they were actually demeaning or dull. If they meant to be thought-provoking, they read exactly that from their text – even if they were actually long-winded or obnoxious.

That’s why editors exist, of course. And Innovative Editing is ready and willing to strengthen your copy should you choose.

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.

But writing flash fiction can still take you much closer to that goal than you otherwise would be, forcing you to ask:

  • Is that word necessary?

  • Does that sentence deserve to be there?

  • Can that thought be rephrased?

And other questions you might not have asked before that you really should have been asking.



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