Writing Genre Flash Fiction the Minimalist Way: A Self-Study Book
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by Michael A. Kechula
Category: Reference/Self Improvement
Description: Flash fiction consists of writing an entire story in a thousand words or less. This constraint imposes significant restrictions on what the writer can do, but written right, flash fiction tales can pack power way out of proportion to their length. The tricks and techniques needed to write effective flash fiction, though, are different from those used for novel-length, or even traditional short stories. Until now, these tricks and techniques had to be learned the hard way...through the path of rejection. Author and editor Michael A. Kechula has written and sold hundreds of genre flash fiction stories, edited a flash fiction magazine, and mentored many flash fiction writers on their path to publication. He's taken the insights he's gained through years of effort and the many thousands of flash fiction stories he's edited and judged, and distilled them into one volume: WRITING GENRE FLASH FICTION THE MINIMALIST WAY. In this self-study guide, Kechula takes the writer through the definition of flash and genre fiction, gives some useful starting points for coming up with story ideas, shows where the usual rules of fiction may need to be reversed (e.g., in flash fiction, we tell, not show), and provides powerful insight into making every word count...and into eliminating those words that don't pull their weight. Before becoming a flash fiction writer, Kechula wrote self-study guides for industry and his book is full of questions and exercises that encourage the writer to apply what they're learning immediately, rather than wait until they have a project under way. This technique is an effective way of eliminating the dreaded 'blank page' syndrome that often makes it difficult for writers to break through and actually get their story written. I found WRITING GENRE FLASH FICTION THE MINIMALIST WAY to be an effective and useful tool to help both beginning and experienced writers learn to pack their story with impact and overcome many of the objections that keep their stories from being bought.
eBook Publisher: BooksForABuck, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [136 KB]
Reading time: 74-103 min.
* Mike Kechula's the real deal, a great writer who can actually teach writing. With the precision of a technical writer (which he is) he's analyzed and cracked the code of readable--and publishable--flash and micro fiction, and has been very generous sharing the secrets. I've learned more about writing from Mike than any of a dozen paid courses I've taken over the last five years, and have recommended him to several fledgling flash writers. If you want not only the basics of readable genre flash, but also a good model of how to analyze a market and master it, Mike can show you. (Valerie Kravette, USA) * Michael Kechula is a mentor to me. He took me under his wing and showed me the real way to write flash fiction. Ever since then I have been published in several magazines. I wouldn't have ever thought I'd get published until I met him. (Calvin Seen, USA) * Your understanding of flash fiction taught me a tremendous amount in a very short time. Your examples and guidance will influence all my writing no matter the genre. Your detailed analysis and suggestions are invaluable. We are so fortunate to have someone of your caliber, knowledge, and patience to mentor us. (John Brooke, Mexico) * Under the guidance of Michael Kechula, who is the god of flash fiction writing, I developed my skills and found success in getting my stories published. (Nancy Cavanaugh, USA)
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Welcome. The purpose of this book is to teach you how to develop genre flash fiction the minimalist way. The contents are based on what we taught dozens of novelists and short story authors when we transformed them into genre flash writers.
In a few moments, we'll define flash fiction, genre fiction, and the minimalist approach to developing flash. Before we do, here's how we'll proceed with the lessons. First, we'll tell you something and show some examples. Then we'll ask you questions. All questions begin with Q followed by a number. Many involve word reduction writing exercises. Have a pencil and paper on hand to answer the questions and complete the exercises.
Answers to all questions and exercises appear in the Answer Pages at the back of the book.
Also included is a 50 question Word Reduction Exercise to give you more practice in writing tighter sentences. Answers for the questions appear in the Word Reduction Answer Pages, which appear at the back of the book.
The book contains 10 lessons. We suggest you review Lesson-1, and Lesson-2 first. Then you may review the rest in any sequence. The lesson names and page numbers are listed in the menu on the next page.
To save space from this point forward, we'll use the abbreviation FF to mean flash fiction.
This concludes the introduction. The next page shows the lesson Menu.
* * * *
1: INTRODUCTION TO GENRE FLASH FICTON
2: GENRE FF DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
3: WRITING OPENING SENTENCES THE MINIMALIST WAY
4: WRITING DIALOG THE MINIMALIST WAY
5: WORD-WASTERS IN DIALOG
6: WORD-WASTERS IN NARRATIVE PART-1
7: WORD-WASTERS IN NARRATIVE PART-2
8: WORD-WASTERS IN NARRATIVE PART-3
9: WORD-WASTERS IN NARRATIVE PART-4
10: WORD-WASTERS IN NARRATIVE PART-5
WORD REDUCTION EXERCISE
ANSWER PAGES FOR LESSONS
ANSWER PAGES FOR WORD REDUCTION EXERCISES
* * * *
INTRODUCTION TO GENRE FLASH FICTION
This lesson covers the following:
Definition of FF
Characteristics of the ideal genre FF tale
Definition of genre fiction
Objectives of the minimalist way of writing FF
Key minimalist authoring techniques
Definition of word-wasters
List of word-wasters
DEFINITION OF FLASH FICTION: a complete story told in 1,000 words or less.
Notice we said a complete story and that it must be told in 1,000 words or less.
The severe word count limitation of flash contrasts sharply with short stories that consist of 1,000 to 10,000 words, and even more so with novels that range from 40,000 upward. But there's another and greater difference that impacts authors: flash is not developed using the same techniques for writing short stories and novels. That means authors will have to learn and apply new ones. Some flash techniques will even conflict with those authors use to develop novels and short stories. Here's an example: when writing FF from the minimalist approach, we omit similes. These figures of speech are never vital to the plot in FF stories, plus they burn up precious word count. Further, some are so poorly conceived they draw attention to themselves and throw us out of the story. This has happened hundreds of times while we were analyzing and critiquing more than 6,000 FF stories.
If you're an author of short stories or novels, we ask you to suspend any preconceived notions you have about developing genre FF. If you can do this, your transformation into a FF writer will be much easier.
Q01: What's the maximum number of words allowable in a FF tale? __________
Q02: How does the word count available in flash compare to that of short stories and novels? Short Stories_____________ Novels________________________
Q03: When developing flash, we said you should omit________________________
Q04: Give one reason for doing that?
Q05: What did we say about similes and how they affect the plot of a flash tale?
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE IDEAL GENRE FF STORY
The ideal genre FF tale has the following characteristics:
It should tell a complete story that can be read in 5 minutes or less.
It should have an opener that pulls readers into the story.
It should be plot-driven.
It should emphasize telling over showing.
It should be a fast read.
It should always move forward at a brisk pace.
It should be free of inflated prose.
It should be free of trivial details.
It should be free of distractions that can throw readers out of the story.
It should contain dialog.
It should contain a maximum of 4 characters.
It should contain a maximum of 4 scenes.
It should end in a way that makes it complete.
Q06: List at least 6 characteristics of the ideal genre flash fiction story.
DEFINITION OF GENRE FICTION
Here's a dictionary description of genre, when applied to fiction: a category of fiction characterized by a particular style, form or content
Here's a partial list of genre names:
To see more genre names, access Google and enter: fiction genres
Each of the genres listed above are further divided into subgenres. For example, two subgenres of fantasy are magical realism and urban fantasy. To obtain a full list of, say, fantasy subgenres, Google on: fantasy subgenres.
Q07: Genre fiction is characterized by a particular style, form, or ____________
Q08: List 3 of the genre names.
The FF format works for any genre. However, the genre in greatest demand by publishers is speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, as well as their dozens of subgenres.
The most compelling genre fiction tales have a protagonist with a quest, and one or more antagonists who do all they can to prevent him from attaining the object of the quest. Crime tales are a good example. Romance tales can also have these elements of genre fiction. Same with adventure, fantasy, and even humorous stories. The trick is to make all this happen in 1,000 words or less.
Here's a summary of what we covered so far:
Definition of FF
Definition of genre fiction
Characteristics of the ideal genre FF tale
Genre fiction names
Let's move on to the objectives of the minimalist way of developing genre FF fiction....