On the Art of Flash Fiction

13 04 2018

ON THE VERY CONTEMPORARY ART OF FLASH FICTION

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

Advertisements




Why Salter Writes

29 11 2017

JAMES SALTER: WHY I WRITE

AN AMERICAN MASTER ON THE ORIGINS OF HIS CRAFT

“To write! What a marvelous thing!” When he was old and forgotten, living in a rundown house in the dreary suburbs of Paris, Léautaud wrote these lines. He was unmarried, childless, alone. The world of the theater in which he had worked as a critic for years was now dark for him, but from the ruins of his life these words rose. To write!

One thinks of many writers who might have said this, Anne Sexton, even though she committed suicide, or Hemingway or Virginia Woolf, who both did also, or Faulkner, scorned in his rural town, or the wreckage that was Fitzgerald in the end. The thing that is marvelous is literature, which is like the sea, and the exaltation of being near it, whether you are a powerful swimmer or wading by the shore. The act of writing, though often tedious, can still provide extraordinary pleasure. For me that comes line by line at the tip of a pen, which is what I like to write with, and the page on which the lines are written, the pages, can be the most valuable thing I will ever own.

Read further @ Literary Hub





Reflections on the Rich Language of Fantasy

29 10 2017

ON THE 13 WORDS THAT MADE ME A WRITER
SOFIA SAMATAR REFLECTS ON THE RICH LANGUAGE OF FANTASY

There was a library and it is ashes. Let its long length assemble.

These words made me a writer.

When I was in middle school, my mother brought home a used paperback copy of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. “I thought this looked like something you might like,” she said.

At the time, I was an avid fantasy fan, but also an increasingly tired and gloomy reader. Driven by an early love for J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula K. Le Guin, I had exhausted the fantasy shelves at my school and downtown libraries in just a few years, and my only remaining source of new books, in those pre-Internet days, was Waldenbooks at the local mall. There I wandered every Saturday with my allowance in my pocket. One weekend I was lucky enough to discover Labrador by Kathryn Davis, which was shelved among the commercial fantasies either by mistake or through some audacious genre-busting among the staff. Most of the time, though, I read disappointing books looking for something good. I had been to Mirkwood Forest, so I read books full of watered-down Mirkwoods, wondering why the feeling was not the same. I had heard the terrifying words uttered among the Tombs of Atuan: She is eaten. And so I paged through paint-by-numbers landscapes and twee rhyming prophecies, searching in vain for the feeling I called fantasy.

Read futher @ Literary Hub





Out Now! BookIsh Plaza eZine SEPTEMBER 2017

1 09 2017

The SEPTEMBER issue of BookIsh Plaza eZine is out now!
BookIsh Plaza is your online bookshop for (Dutch)Caribbean literature.

In this issue:

·        Folklore from Aruba, Bonaire & Curaçao
·        Cuba on our Literary Mind
·        Dutch Caribbean Authors not know in the Caribbean
·        And much more ……….

Read & share the eZine. The next one will appear in September.

BOOKISH PLAZA eZINE nr.64 SEPTEMBER 2017

Visit BookIsh Plaza for our New Arrivals!





Creating Young Characters in Books

1 09 2017

AMITA TRASI AND CECILIA GALANTE ON WRITING YOUNG CHARACTERS

“I WANT TO EXPLORE THAT SIDE OF ADULTHOOD WHERE WE STILL HAVE THE CHILD WITHIN US”

Both Amita Trasi and Cecilia Galante explore difficult issues in their fiction through the experiences of young characters. Galante’s most recent book, The Odds of You and Me, features a young mother grappling with sexism and abuse. Trasi’s recently-published debut novel, The Color of our Sky, follows two childhood friends from entirely different worlds growing up in Mumbai. Below, they discuss how their lived experiences inform their storytelling, what dictates their audiences, and their favorite parts of the creative process. 

Read further @ LiteraryHub

 





Is Writing a Painful & Bloody Process

1 09 2017

WHY DOES ANYONE WRITE?

WRITING A NOVEL IS A PAINFUL AND BLOODY PROCESS

Writing a novel is a painful and bloody process that takes up all your free time, haunts you in the darkest hours of night and generally culminates in a lot of weeping over an ever-growing pile of rejection letters. Every novelist will have to go through this at least once and in some cases many times before they are published, and since publication itself brings no guarantee of riches or plaudits, it’s not unreasonable to ask what sort of a person would subject himself to such a thing.

Read further @ LiteraryHub





Tips to Building Suspense

1 09 2017

WHAT JANE AUSTEN CAN TEACH US
ABOUT BUILDING SUSPENSE

HOW TO USE DRAMATIC IRONY AND PLOT SECRETS

Secrets are key to Jane Austen’s fiction and to driving her narratives forward. She lived in a society where life was lived very publicly, and yet true feelings and emotions were often kept hidden. In Love and Friendship she spoofed the cult of sensibility—the characters have constant fits of fainting, weeping and running mad—but in her mature works Jane Austen demonstrated the power of keeping characters’ feelings under wraps. Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth is a wonderful example of suppressed feelings coming to the surface. In Chapter 34 of Pride and Prejudice he bursts out, “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,” sentences that can now be bought on tote bags and keyrings. Until this point Mr. Darcy has kept his feelings hidden because he thinks that Elizabeth’s family are beneath him.

Read further @ Literary Hub