As of today, I have had this blog for a year. It has changed since I first started it but then, so have I. This blog has grown with me as I have and I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that has read of my posts, and an even bigger thank you to the people that have stuck with it from the beginning.
This year has been a really big and exciting year for me and it’s been wonderful to share even parts of that with you all! Here is a short list of some of the best bits about this year.
- I finished college and I got accepted into my first choice university, I’m going to study Creative Writing and English Literature in September.
- I went to Rome and it reminded me why I love city breaks, I went to so many amazing places and saw so many amazing things.
- I actually starting writing properly again, and writing something that I’m actually going to finish!
- I got even more into slam poetry and actually managed to write my own, it’s not perfect but it is mine and I love it.
- I got given a camera as a birthday present and have since got into photography, again, I’m not brilliant but I’m having fun! Maybe I’ll put some up in the future and you can all see how not great I am!
But no, this year has been amazing and I just wanted to say thank you! Here’s to many more years!
Recently I started writing again, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time for anything (including this, my most sincere apologies)! But in the last few weeks I have picked up my pen and started writing again and it is brilliant!
It began because I was discussing with my friend the difficulty that comes with trying to write a classic whodunit and decided to set myself a challenge of writing one… because obviously, after discussing how difficult something is, one cannot help but try it! It is still in its very early stages yet but I have a murderer and a victim so really, what more do I need?
You know, apart from a detective, a plot, alibis, clues, a motive, other characters and a setting! But I’m getting there and Eloise Betjemen is coming to life – my wonderful, Holmes-esque protagonist – and a motive can’t be that hard to work out!
I have always loved detective stories and it has been a dream of mine to write one for ages so, despite the difficulties, I decided to give it a go! But I wanted something a bit more fun and thus, the murder mystery dinner was born. Because where’s the last place someone would expect a murder? One where a fake one has already been committed, of course!
I don’t know, I thought it was a fun idea! I’ll try to keep you all updated on Eloise and her crime-solving abilities!
very short works of fiction that are typically no longer than a couple of pages and may be as short as one paragraph.
Flash fiction is an incredibly clever and nuanced art, to tell a full story in so few words suggests a skill that I am yet to cultivate. It never really occurred to me that it was possible to do so but I am learning and it is working.
My first attempt may have started as a piece of flash fiction but the next thing I knew it had sprawled across most of a notebook and was pushing 10,000 words with fully-fledged characters and a couple of subplots… not so much a short story then.
But, I persevered and my second attempt was better, it ended up at only 5,000 words…
So I decided to read some other people’s attempts and see what advice they gave for writing flash fiction, it was an enlightening experience! Apparently flash fiction only needs a couple of characters, who knew? But after reading many (MANY!) different pieces of flash fiction, everything from a love story at a laundrette to a horror story about writer’s block, I decided to give it another go. And this time?
1,000 words exactly (well… give or take a couple!).
This was a massive achievement, a complete plot in only 1,000 words? It’s such an incredibly clever way of writing as it relies so much on subtlety and reading between the lines at the rest of the novel the writer didn’t put into words. As it was (and is still, really) something I struggled with, I thought I would share my tips for writing flash fiction for beginners!
- CHOOSE YOUR GENRE
- It’s important to choose one that you can fully do justice in less than 1,000 words, horror or romance work well but probably don’t attempt fantasy or a crime thriller because you just do not have words to flesh it out
- This is something I struggled with as I usually write fantasy or thriller, it was an interesting experience for me – I chose romance, not something I write very often.
- NO SUBPLOTS
- Focus on the main story and don’t go off on a tangent for anything else, the plot is the single plot that tells the story, we don’t need to know anything extra.
- Again, something I struggled with, as soon as I get an idea I want to write about it, develop that too, but that’s absolutely not viable in flash fiction, you have to limit yourself to one thing. I’m sure that this has also made my other writing more readable and less Victor Hugo-esque (the king of irrelevant tangents!).
- YOU ONLY NEED A COUPLE OF CHARACTERS
- Seriously, be really strict with yourself, you need two – maybe three – characters and that’s it.
- If you try and include too many characters you end up in subplot-heaven but flash fiction-hell.
- I found that forcing my two main characters into a situation where they were alone was one of the only ways to stop me adding more characters and plot-points… either physically (broken lifts work well) or emotionally (the middle of an argument perhaps).
- NARRATIVE VOICE
- Go for either 1st person or 3rd person focalised.
- Do not try to do 3rd person omniscient, there is always too much going on with too few words to do it all justice, it’ll just end up feeling messy and rushed (that’s what I’ve found anyway… maybe you’re all a lot better at it than I am!)
- Just focus on the emotions of one character – 3rd person focalised still shows all of the action, it just shows it through the perspective of a single character.
- Another interesting one to try is the ‘onlooker’ approach where your story is narrated (in either 1st or 3rd person) by an outsider not actually involved in the action which, whilst not the easiest to pull off, is a brilliant way of keeping the tangents to a minimum.
- THE END
- Leave the ending ambiguous, leave the reader with a cliffhanger, end it on a question or a single action that makes everything clear.
- Just because it’s short doesn’t mean that it has to have a clear end in 1,000 words, leave it open-ended, suggest that these characters have lives outside of your snapshot.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started! Good luck and if you do publish anything, drop them in the comments so I read them all! Because who doesn’t want a story you can read in ten minutes?