"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living."
-Anais Nin

24 June 2011

Flash Fiction Addiction

Hello, I’m C.A.T. Torres V, and I’m a flash fiction addict. If you’re an emerging writer still honing your craft, I suggest you become one, too.

I completed three novels (first drafts) before I discovered the heady pleasure of writing flash fiction. I always thought of stories in the long, drawn-out format. But now that I’ve sampled flash fiction writing, I’m hooked.

Fortunately, it’s not a destructive addiction. In fact, it’s helped me improve my writing. There’s nothing like a 500 to 1,000-word limit to force you to obey all those golden rules: begin in medias res; take out adjectives and adverbs; use strong verbs; limit use of dialogue tags; show, don’t tell.  I’m now applying that vigilance in cutting down words and ‘killing my darlings’ in my draft novel.

The plethora of online markets for flash fiction is amazing. Check out the listings available on AbsoluteWrite and go through the search engine of Duotrope to select the best market for your work. Duotrope has helpful stats and details on submission requirements, plus a great submission tracker to help you keep track of all your submissions. By reporting your submissions, acceptances and responses, you provide more information to other writers also searching for the right market for their stories.

You might want to choose markets with fast response times but are challenging to get into, or those with high acceptance rates but take forever to respond (even to reject your work).

‘Democratic’ ezines such as The Fringe and Weird Year combine approachability with swift responses. Their main goal is to provide new writers publication exposure. Though they’re usually non-paying markets (i.e. you don’t get paid for your story), they’re free and thus more affordable than flash fiction contests that charge entry fees. These ezines don’t count as vanity publishing or self-publishing, since you don’t publish your story at your own expense. Contributing to these ezines will also help them grow to become paying or professional markets. It’s a win-win situation.

Exposure aside, there is invaluable benefit in submitting to tougher ezines. Feedback from these editors can be educational. Because they only read very short fiction, they’re able to respond quickly and personally, rather than just send form letters. They’re able to identify the weakness in the submission in a response as succinct as the story itself.

I would personally prefer to submit to tough markets with fast response times (i.e. less than a month). Since they usually prohibit simultaneous  and multiple submissions, I’d prefer to receive my rejections quickly so I can either submit an improved piece to the next tough market, or another piece to the same market.

Oh, and you might want to try out Autocrit Wizard. You won’t need to shell out any money to analyze flash fiction text; just stick to the free service option. It allows you to analyse 500 words three times each day. It’s useful in finding overused words and repeated phrases that you might have missed, and excellent in marking generic descriptions and clichés.

If you read your work aloud to edit (which you always should, whether writing flash fiction or a novel), you probably won’t need Autocrit. With 500 words or less, reading aloud doesn’t seem so tough anymore.

So go and have a blast writing flash. And let me know if it's time to set up a Flash Fictions Anonymous.

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