The Art of Flash Fiction

I know what you’re thinking.

What is flash fiction? Is that where the main character wears a red suit and is surrounded by yellow lightening?

No.

Maybe.

But the much broader term ‘Flash Fiction’ generally means any piece of fiction less than 2000 words. That’s around a 5-6 page story, just enough to pique interest and present an idea.

I love flash fiction.

I’m currently assembling a lot of the flash fiction I’ve written into an anthology, or reader, or whatever you want to call it. There are stories that deal with longing, loss, space, robots, the origin of a species, all kinds of things.

And all of these stories are extremely short. All of them combined might make 50 pages.

So how does that even work?

Ideas rather than plots or Characters

Flash fiction is much more about how the story makes the reader fell than how good the plot/character development/whatever metric people use to score a longer story is. A well written piece of flash fiction will leave the reader thinking about the overarching ideas of the story. Not to say that a great plot or character can’t be developed in that short of a frame, but the idea is usually what sticks.

Hate Charles Dickens

I (Will) am well documented as saying that I hate Charles Dickens writing. It has too many words. Likewise, a flash fiction piece should be concise and not use flowery language or overly complicated words to describe something. Be concise. Tell a story, don’t give a dissertation.

Trust the Reader

Readers are smarter than we authors think. Most of the time anyway. If you think the scene is not properly set up by being concise, think again. Readers can fill in any gaps you think are missing, because they are smart individuals. They have probably forged scenes in their heads before. It’s ok to let go of their hands. You can do it. Stop saying so many words. You’re becoming an adjective farmer and flooding the market. Stop it.

 

Flash Fiction is a great way to start a daily writing habit, and also to make a little extra cash once you can collect them into an anthology. Don’t sleep on it.

Write a story!

Speculation and the Art of Fiction

It’s always something that is thought or said that invigorates the mind of a writer. For instance, when pitching Star Wars episode VII to J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy simply asked, “Who is Luke Skywalker?”

This was enough to get J.J. to take on the project and co write the movie with Lawrence Kasdan. Similarly, for my most recently published fiction, I asked the question, “How would a superintelligent AI act towards humans?”

 

Simple questions, but important none the less. Once the question is asked, speculation must replace curiosity. One must move from wondering about the question to answering the question. Sometimes the questions get radically profound answers, leading one to see the beauty and terror of The Matrix.

Other times the answer is midichlorians.

But what separates good speculation from bad?

 

Plausibility

Plausibility? Aren’t we talking about fiction here?

Sure. But that doesn’t mean you can just wave your hand and it not be a plot hole. I always like the Star Trek TNG answer to the transporters.

“Are the transporters online?”

“Almost, we need to fix something on the Heisenberg compensators.”

What does a Heisenberg compensator do exactly? I don’t know. All I know is it compensates for the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which is the main barrier for technology like that. It isn’t a matter of fiction, per se, but it is a matter of plausibility.

Originality

Originality is a tricky subject, because one could argue that it no longer exists. While that may be somewhat true, presentation is always original whether good or bad. An original presentation can make or break the fiction we are trying to write.

In order to bring this to the forefront, remember to speculate from your own viewpoint and not a preconceived notion. The status quo never stirred anyone to great achievement, unless it moved them in tangent.

Consumability

Ok that isn’t really a word.

But what i mean is that it has to be palatable. Someone has to want to read/watch/play it. Bad fiction that is of the most wildly original speculation is still bad fiction. The point of being an artist is to have an audience that will consume the art, otherwise you’re just a pompous windbag who nobody cares about.

Don’t be that person.

Create things that are good. Get an editor. Hire an artist. Rewrite the sentence until it makes sense. Do whatever it takes.

 

The Art of Fiction is one that is one that heavily relies on speculation. A rocket scientist can not speculate on the right amount of fuel to get to the space station. An accountant cannot speculate on the cost of a mission that the rocket scientist is purchasing fuel for.

But a writer can speculate about how both of them do their jobs.

Happy Writing.

Uncanny Divide:Six Tales of Artificial Intelligence

Here it is folks, the new Short Story anthology from Turtleshell Press and Happy Pants Books:

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It features myself, and two other great authors you should check out. These six stories feature some thought provoking fiction on the subject of artificial intelligence, and will keep you engaged until the end.

Plus they’re short, so they read quickly and leave you wanting more!

Please check it out, buy a copy, leave a review, and help support this little endeavor. We all would appreciate it and the more we get funded, the more we can do what we love, which is write stories for all of you to enjoy.

Click the link, and begin the journey!

Uncanny Divide: Six Tales of Artificial Intelligence

Writing repititiously

So…who writes every day?

 

Not me certainly. I’m busy. This gig is a hobby at best for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing SciFi, I just don’t have a lot of time to do it.
But I have been writing at least twice a week for the past several months.

Some of it is pretty good.

Some of it is just ok.

Some of it is complete and total garbage.
But now it’s out and can either be fixed or scrapped.

How often do you write?

If it isn’t at least once a week, try that out. Shoot for more though. I find that the more I write, the more I have that can be good, and can be turned into something a reader will want. I could care less how many books I sell, I just want people to enjoy what I write. I wrote a novel, and I’ve had some mixed reviews on it so far. I’ve also written a non-fiction Christian book, Presbybapticostalism, and I have only heard positive feedback.

But I sent time writing those books. I had to spend lots of time writing to get them both out. If one tanks, oh well. The other one is helping a lot of people.
So how much are you writing? Are you finishing that novel? Are you working on a screenplay? How many songs have you written in the past month?

Well then you need to write some more.

Why Sci Fi?

Sci Fi as a genre has always fascinated me.

It’s fantastical.

It makes me think.

It has lightsabers and giant robots.

My earliest memories of Sci Fi are of Star Wars. When i was a kid the spaceships were the coolest thing to me. I just finished writing a novel, and every time my I pictured my space fighters all I could see were X-wings.

it just gets stuck in my head.

Star Trek TOS is also a favorite of mine, but for a different reason: the stories.

I’m a youth pastor when I’m not writing books, and one of the best parts of my job is the Bible. It’s full of great stories, many of which have been replicated throughout literature for millennia. I am an individual who is greatly engrossed in story.

My good friend Grant Barnes is just as avid a SciFi fan as myself, and between the two of us we are the Nerdcore Theologians. Mostly him, I guest post at nerdcoretheology.com. There at his blog we intermingle nerdy things and theology; it’s real fun.

But I want to know what drives you to Science Fiction.

What is it about this particular genre that grabs you?

For me it’s the story and the spaceships.

Please, leave comments below, and I’ll do my best to get back to you!