I’ve completed a few short fiction projects lately.
I submitted a piece for Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. I’m actually really proud of that piece. I volunteer at the Teen Writers Society in Anchorage at the Loussac Public Library. A few months ago, the group was talking about ideas and writing prompts. We went around the room and everyone shared at least one idea with the group. One of the regular attendees suggested “Fantasy Vet Clinic” and everyone agreed the idea was the one we should use as our writing prompt. My story ended up a little over 7,000 words and I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. We’ll see if the contest judges feel the same.
Also, the success of Fireside Magazine’s year two Kickstarter campaign inspired me to respond to their request for flash fiction submissions. I had been mulling over an idea for several months with the thought that I might be able to turn it into a novel. While I found the concept very interesting, there wasn’t really a story there. But 1,000 words should be plenty to illustrate a simple idea though, right?
Um… yeah. For what it’s worth, 1,000 words go by QUICK. I got it done, though. And I’m really happy with the results.
These projects have taught me a lot about both writing and storytelling. Particularly, working on short fiction projects has reinforced the need to have your words do more than one thing. When you only have 1,000 words to work with, they each need to do as much heavy lifting as possible. It’s not enough that a word, phrase or sentence establishes character or describes a setting. They need to do both. Dialogue can’t introduce conflict without advancing the plot. Anything ending in an –ly had better have a damn good reason for being there.
I’m back to working on a novel now, and I can tell that writing within the rigid constraints of short and flash fiction has had an impact on my prose. I think, for the better.
If you’ve learned any lessons moving from short fiction to novels or vice versa, let me know in the comments.