Thursday, February 25, 2010

Micro Fiction - Does Size Matter?

Micro fiction is not a new trend, but with the proliferation of websites devoted to only flash and micro fiction, its popularity is growing. I can envision many non-writers viewing micro fiction with a 'cool, but it's so short, it must be easy' mindset.

It is harder to pack a complete (and compelling - short doesn't mean dull or boring) story in under 1,000 words. Or 400 words. Or under 420 characters, like the micro fiction featured on Short, Fast, and Deadly. Tweet the Meat, is an e-zine of Twitter-length horror shorts, with each short limited to only 140 characters. Robert Swartwood coined the term 'Hint Fiction' for stories with twenty-five or fewer words.

Micro fiction offers a quick read, a story snapshot, if you will, with enough of the story included to paint a framework and enough left out to let your imagination fill in the rest. Achieving the perfect balance is the tough part.

Very short pieces are also a great way to break out of a writing rut, or to help spur the muse along when she (or he) is lazy. I tend to write them when I reach rough spots in whatever WIP I'm working on. I usually write a few short pieces and boom, my characters start behaving themselves again.

Although I write short pieces as side projects, I don't view them as less important; just because they're short in length doesn't mean they're short on value.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shock Totem Flash Fiction Contest

The awesome folks at Shock Totem recently had a flash fiction contest. There were eighteen participants and lo and behold, I tied with three others for first place - Effie Collins, Caton Easton, and Rich Sampson.

March 1st is the start of the next contest. Please visit the Shock Totem site for more information. You must become a member of the Shock Totem forum to enter the contest, and everyone who enters a story must vote.

This was a great experience. Everyone in this round provided fantastic feedback for all the stories; it was great to see how one prompt can inspire eighteen completely different stories.

I am looking forward to the next one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Writer's Block: Fact or Fiction

Someone on Twitter asked for ideas for a guest blog post, and I mentioned 'the myth of writer's block'. I realized I'd not updated my blog in a few days (sorry all, I've been busy with my WIPs), so I decided to address the same issue myself.

I don't believe writer's block exists. Sorry. I do believe people can succumb to things like stress, fear of rejection, or perhaps just an absence of a good story idea and find themselves unable to write, but I don't believe it's a writer's block.

In my opinion, the trick to keeping the word machine in your head producing words is to write every day. Even when you don't want to. Even when you really don't want to. The words don't have to be brilliant. They should make a modicum of sense, but they don't have to end up anywhere except your trash can or your Recycle Bin.

The trick is just to keep producing the words. You can set a daily word count limit or a specific time allotment, but you have to write something. When my fiction seems at a standstill, I write poetry. Tons of it. Some good, some rubbish. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, they're words. Sometimes I start short stories I've no intention of ever finishing. I keep them, though, all of them because I never know when I might want to revisit them (even if I'm only stealing a cool line or two for something else). Dialogue is another good one. Just take two people (or three if you are so inclined) and have them talk about anything at all. The neighbor's dog who barks too much, the weird kid who lives at the end of the street, the funny noise they heard last night. The 'what' isn't important. It's the 'what you're doing' that is. It's the equivalent of putting your muse on the treadmill. At first, she might gripe and groan, but then she'll get into a grove and keep pushing on.

This write something every day never fails for me. In the midst of the word-rush, good ones start to emerge. Ideas flow in, characters take shape and boom! It's neither magic nor science. Just logic.

After all, if you want to be a writer, you have to write.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blizzards and Words

I live in Maryland, and we've been hit with two major snowstorms in under a week. My back yard is buried in what appears to be over four feet of snow. It's cold and windy and I am staying inside. And writing, of course.

I've been cranking out the words on my latest WIP, but another character has also started speaking to me, so I'm also working on her story. I'm not sure how long I can go working on both stories; I've always been a one WIP kind of girl, but for now, I am going for it. I work on the dark, edgy YA (Young Adult) tale in the morning and the grownup WIP at night.

Yes, you read that right. I'm writing a YA tale. I didn't know it was YA when I started it. It started out as a short story, but the character would not leave me alone. There was more to her story, and she wanted it told. She is a bitter, bleak seventeen-year old, with good reason for the bitter bleakness. No, I'm not going into detail here.

The snow is good for one thing though: word count. The counts on both WIPs are steadily rising. My goal for this year was to complete three first drafts and have at least one cleaned up, edited, beta read, and edited some more. I am well on my way. I may even end up with two clean and pretty manuscripts by the end of the year. Which two? Who knows?

Only one thing is for certain. I am having fun telling these tales.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yes, Another Short Story Published

My flash fiction piece, April Showers May Bring Sorrow, is on Everyday Weirdness today. Yes, this is a horror tale, but it's not a graphic gore-fest. This is a story I've already started to turn into a full-fledged novel, but I have a few others that want to be told/written first.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Short Story Published

My short story, Let Down Your Hair, is available to read today on Every Day Fiction. This is not a dark, scary, and horrible story, but a short bit of humor, so even if you're squeamish, it's safe to read.