On the Art of Flash Fiction

13 04 2018


Lord Chesterfield called the novel “a kind of abbreviation of a Romance.” Ian McEwan described the more compact novella as “the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated, ill-shaven giant.” William Trevor considered the short story “essential art.” Writing a story, he said, is infinitely harder than writing a novel, “but it’s infinitely more worthwhile.” And now we have the even shorter story, a form that was validated, if it needed to be, when Lydia Davis, whose stories are sometimes a sentence long, was awarded the 2013 Man Booker International Prize. In their citation, the judges said of Davis’s works: “Just how to categorize them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apothegms, prayers or simply observations.”

The short-short story is narrative (or it’s not) that is distilled and refined, concentrated, layered, coherent, textured, stimulating, and resonant, and it may prove to be the ideal form of fiction for the 21st century, an age of shrinking attention spans and busy and distracted lives, in which our mobile devices connect us to the world as they simultaneously divert us from it. And on the screens of our smartphones and our iPads and our laptops, we can fit an entire work of flash fiction. It’s short but not shallow; it’s a reduced form used to represent a larger, more complex story; it’s pithy and cogent, brief and pointed, and like the gist of a recollected conversation, it offers the essential truth, if not all the inessential facts.

The market for flash fiction is extensive and it’s growing. A Google search for flash fiction markets nets 719,000 hits in .55 seconds. Duotrope lists 4,700 publications looking for flash fiction, and a few of those outlets publish 365 stories a year. Your chances of finding a home for your short-short story are considerably better than they are for your novel. What better way to break into the world of publishing, to get your name out there, to earn the endorsement of editors, to introduce your beloved characters to an appreciable number of readers? If your dream is to write a novel, consider that flash fiction might be your first small step. I learned to write novels by writing short stories and learned to write short stories by writing very short stories before they had a snappy name.

While flash fiction may be quickly read, it is not often quickly written. Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” To be brief takes time. But the obvious fact is that it does take less time to write a short-short story than it does the longer forms. It might take years to write a novel (it does for me), months to write a story, but only weeks, maybe days, if you’re lucky, to write a very short story. And an occasional morsel of sweet short-term gratification won’t make you sick. Promise! With the end so close in sight, you are emboldened, and you learn to finish. If you don’t finish, you can’t revise, and if you don’t revise, you won’t learn to write.

Read further @ LitHub

Wanna be a Novelist?

11 03 2017


1. Examine your motives
2. Arrange financing
3. Write a bad novella
4. Don’t publish the bad novella
5. Think of a plot and characters
6. Write your debut
7. Never worry about style
8. Get an agent
9. Sell it
10. Write another one

Read further @ Literary Hub

Curaçao through the eyes of Pierre Lauffer

5 09 2012

Publishing house In the Knipscheer organises an evening with reading, interview, lecture, film and music around the Curaçao poet Pierre Lauffer in response to the presentation of the biography Het bewogen leven van een bevlogen dichter [The life of an inspired poet] by Bernadette Heiligers.

Pierre Lauffer (1920-1981) belongs to the most important poets of Curaçao. He is the man who defied the spirit of the times in order to create literature in his beloved Papiamento, the language that when, under the influence of the colonial thinking, was branded by many as ugly and indeficient. Through his poetry the reader learns about the society in which he grew up. And his stories written in Dutch written shows the Dutch reader how much beauty his country has to offer.

Two more books will be launched that evening:
– the debut novel Woestijnzand [Desert Sand, ed.] by Elodie Heloïse and
Terug tot Tovar [Back to Tovar, ed.], the new novella by Hans Vaders.

Sign session with authors afterwards

The following persons give their cooperation: biographer Bernadette Heiligers, Prof. Dr. Wim Rutgers (connected as Professor at the UA on Aruba and UNA on Curaçao), translators Lucille Berry-Haseth and Fred de Haas and artist Robin Akkerman.

Date: september 16th, 2012
Time: 3 p.m.  (hall open 2.30 p.m.)
Location: Podium Mozaïek, Bos en Lommerweg 191,  Amsterdam

What is it? Novel, Novella or novelette?

29 10 2011

When is a novel not a novel? When it’s a novella

Julian Barnes won this year’s Booker prize with a book that was just 150 pages long. What should we call it?

One of the themes to emerge from the Booker Prize is the length at which a novel becomes a novel. Is Julian Barnes’s award-winner The Sense of an Ending a novel, or a novella? Might it even be a novelette? This issue caught the attention of our own Laura Barnett, who was hard-pressed to find a meaningful distinction. The fact that few people nowadays would describe Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a novella, even though it has been regarded as such in the past, shows the extent to which the term has fallen into disrepute.

Another slant on the issue of length came last week in an archive piece on HG Wells at 70. “There is a time to write novels and a time not to,” said an uncharacteristically eeyorish Wells. “The novel is not one thing; it is many things. Every age has its own sort of novel. When we are young we delight to play with possibility. We write fantasies and vivid impressions. This is the time for short stories, quick short stories.”

Read full article @ The Guardian