Monday, July 25, 2011

Liquid Wisdom and Flash Fiction

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon

Jimmy Buffett said “There is a lot of wisdom in a bottle of whiskey.” I didn’t end up sipping wee drams of Scotch last night, but I did have a couple of glasses of wine while contemplating yesterday’s post. The wine told me that it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re writing. Who am I to argue with Buffett or wine?

Anyway, I’ve been productive before noon, today. What a great feeling. I should try to recapture it - daily.

But, I have to back up, just a bit, before I tell you about today’s successes. Saturday, I finally started writing flash fiction. I visited AW’s Flash Fiction Challenge thread to find the daily prompt, and a few hours later, I had my first flash fiction piece of the challenge. Today I picked up the next prompt and had twelve-hundred words only an hour or so later.

Today's prompt reminded me of a scene I’ve got rolling around in my head for my next novel, and I thought it would be a good pre-writing exercise to write it as a flash fiction story. It was a really fast write, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not sure what POV I want to use in my new novel, so I let this be an opportunity to try out first person (I always write in third person limited).

At first blush, the scene seemed…perfect. I felt really pleased with the result. The scene came together so nicely, the characters sparked to life in their debut. I love them already.

But, that’s the problem with being the creator - it is sometimes too easy to become enamored with the creation. So, I forced myself to take a deep breath, drop the self-satisfied grin from my lips, and read more critically. It was difficult.

First off, I wrote a scene, not a complete story. Second, it is nearly twelve-hundred words, not my target of one-thousand. Third, the POV is all over the place - not surprising as I haven’t written fiction in first in recent memory. It is a great rough draft of a scene, but it is no flash fiction prize winner. Bummer. This is just as tricky as I imagined…and trickier.

I thought about revising and rewriting the scene, but I don’t think I will. It will be saved in a folder with my other pre-writing tasks for the novel, and I will move on to the next prompt.

It is very tempting to jump into these prompts with little or no preparation, after all, it is only one-thousand words. But, that is a bit of a lie. It is an entire story in one-thousand words. If anything, I need to plan more and tighten the structure till it sings when plucked. I need more control, not less. Next time I will use the plotting techniques I’ve been studying and map out the story in a diagram.

Now it is time for lunch, but what should I work on after? I missed Sunday’s prompt, so I may write another flash fiction piece. Of course, there is also the remainder of my pre-writing for the next novel. Something to contemplate over my curry.

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