One of the challenges that many authors face — both fiction and non-fiction — is the task of choosing their words carefully. Because words become sentences, and sentences become paragraphs, and paragraphs become elements of the project-at-hand, it’s important that the words that are selected serve a significant purpose — that they’re not there as filler or fluff. It is that very selection, and your ability to recognize it, that makes you a writer. It is your ability to choose the exact words that convey what you want the reader to see, feel, smell, and touch (if only they could) and to cull out the ones that serve no purpose.
An excellent exercise for deliberately choosing words and for stimulating the creative writing process is Flash Fiction. I was introduced to Flash Fiction many years ago in one of my first creative writing courses, and to this day it’s one of my favorite writing practices. Flash Fiction is a very short story, often stimulated by a writing prompt. Since the writer is limited to a select number of words, it’s crucial that you write with a heightened sense of attention-to-detail, but the framework of any story still needs to be there — the beginning, the middle, the end, along with dramatic tension, and character conflict and resolution.
One of my favorite quotes about writing short fiction comes from author Rebecca Makkai:
“Most stories we tell in real life are under 500 words. You’re at a party, everyone has a glass of wine, and suddenly you have the floor. You throw out your little story like a grenade. ‘Once I knew a guy who…’ And if you have any social graces at all, you probably keep it under 500. So my advice would be this: Don’t get all up in your head thinking short-short stories have to be poetry without the line breaks. Don’t put on your beret. Just tell a story, an actual story. Quick, while they’re still listening.”
Don’t you just love this? Because we’re writers, we are innately storytellers, whether we recognize it or not. Give Flash Fiction a try. In fact, use On The Occasion of Writing as the platform for your stories.
On The Occasion of Writing: The Goal
When I began the development for On The Occasion of Writing, I envisioned a place where writers could go to have access to a plethora of writing information and inspiration. The site is building, slowly but surely! Because I believe so strongly in the benefits of short story and Flash Fiction writing, I am excited to announce the first Flash Fiction call for submissions for On The Occasion of Writing.
The rules are pretty simple: From the prompt provided, submit a 500-word flash fiction story. In the comment section, we’ll allow readers to vote on their favorites!
Here’s your prompt, and the first line of your story: