Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Curing Prosaic Diarrhea

“In addition to being fun to write, flash fiction boosts your writing skills.” -- Kay Marie Porterfield in 10 Reasons to Write Flash Fiction
Writing flash fiction improved my writing. Why? It forced me to concentrate on only those ideas and words that were essential to a story. I took an online fiction writing class two years ago in which the instructor insisted that all assignments be no longer than 500 words. Many students struggled with this until they realized two things. First, their stories attempted to include too much information. In my opinion, flash fiction works best when the story is about one character’s struggle during a brief instance in time. Stories that attempt to cover months or years usually don’t work for me. Of course, there are exceptions. The other thing the students learned was the importance of trimming unnecessary words and ideas from their stories. Anyone who wants to tighten his prose should write a few flash stories. Start with a limit of 1000 words, then attempt 750 and 500. Writing flash fiction is a great cure for those who suffer from prosaic diarrhea.

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