These flash fiction short stories are not easy. In fact, they are a pain. I’ve written a few already and in each case I have struggled mightily not to have them surge beyond 500 words. How to tell a whole plot in less than that though? Such a feat is not easy. That I am doing it at all sometimes feels like it is in some small way a miracle.
Part of the joy of writing a novel is that we as writers can pontificate at length. We can have really short scenes and excessively long scenes. The only general restriction on length there is if one is trying to stay within the range of a word count that is acceptable for a certain genre. Even those guidelines are fairly subjective, however. Well, when I say subjective, I should clarify that a great story forgives almost any transgression. When a story is average (or worse), then these rules start to become more important to follow.
Restriction in some form or another helps to challenge the skills. It is like resistance training. One cannot grow stronger without lifting heavy weights. In weight training, one generally wants to select a weight (liken weight to a restriction) that will give them the optimal resistance for a prescribed set of reps. Done perfectly, if I want to perform 3 sets of 10 reps, I would want a weight that I can do that so that by the 3rd set of 10, I am barely making it past the last rep without losing form. The same can go for just about any skill. Make a rule, a restriction, just enough to challenge to a point to spur some growth in the skill.
That is what I am trying to do with my 500 word restriction in my Free Fiction Friday flash fiction stories. I am trying to get to a point where 500 words is at that sweet spot, where I can write a story that makes it right about to that point, without losing form. I hasn’t been easy, but then again, I hadn’t expected it to be.
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