Sunday, April 15, 2012

Write It Short And Sweet

When I started writing fifteen years ago, I concentrated on short stories. I belonged to a writing group that wrote and read their stories aloud twice a month. The leader of the group gave us a subject,  sometimes a picture or the names of three or four objects to include in our writing. I remember one in particular, "a rocking chair, a china cup and ballet slippers." The creative stories the group wrote and read all included those words, but each one was completely different.

Needless to say, I have a file folder full of my tales. As the group grew, we found we had to limit our words due to a time limit. While the original stories were 1500 to 2000 words, we eventually cut them to 600 or less to give everyone a chance to read their stories.

I mention this because trimming your work makes you choose only the important words and in the end, the story becomes more powerful. In my critique group, I circle the 'was' words in blue, the 'ly' words in red and 'ing' in green. It's not because I don't want the group to use those words, but to point out how many they include and how they can eliminate weak adverbs and still make their stories interesting. 

"He was walking quickly to the car," can be said: "He rushed to the car." Of course, in longer novels, you'd want to show that instead of telling. 

Poetry is another genre that requires choosing the correct and powerful words. I lead a, "Memoir, Creative Writing, Poetry," group once a month. Monday, we are fortunate to have Nevada's Senior Poet Laureate, Raynette Eitel, to give a presentation. She is wonderful with words and rhythm. I'm sure my group will learn a lot even if they don't write poetry. I can't write it, but I love to listen, especially to Raynette's thought provoking poems. I have three of her books and treasure them.

I challenge you to look at any newspaper heading or even an advertisement and write a short story with a beginning, middle conflict and ending in 500 words or less. It will help your writing, and you'll have fun creating an interesting piece of Flash Fiction. As an aside, there are many 
e-zines on the internet who publish Flash Fiction.

Keep writing. Joyce