Wednesday, 30 January 2013

written flash fiction

I have a confession to make: for the last four years I’ve been asking my short story students at City to write stories of exactly 100 words (“drabbles”) as an exercise, yet I rarely write flash fiction (under 1000 words) myself. I’ve published nearly 40 short stories since starting to write prose fiction, and only four have been 1000 words or less. And given that the next Liars' League is a flash fiction special, I've been reading an awful lot of flash recently (60 stories, to be precise).

A youthful and toothsome Drabble
I am, as anyone who’s read some of the other blog posts on here (average length 1000-2000 words) will know, naturally prolix. Brevity doesn’t come easily to me. If I’m going to sit down and write something, I usually want to spend a good few hours on it: I want to explore the setting, the character and the narrative arc at my leisure. I want, in short, to write without limits – especially word limits. I’m sure some of you know what I mean. Putting a bunch of words on a page has never been a problem for me – but the right words (and only the right words) in the right order, now that’s the challenge …

So last year, when I was asked to teach a Flash Fiction workshop at a university open day, I knew had to get some practice in – reading and writing it. Luckily I had to hand Sawn Off Tales by David Gaffney and Tania Hershman’s collection The White Road (both are especially noted as authors of shorter fiction).