As a writer, I have always struggled with keeping things brief. At one point during my creative writing workshop in college, my professor gave me my most terrifying assignment ever: to write an entire story in a single page. I’ll be honest—I panicked. How on earth could I manage to grab the reader, set the scene, and show some semblance of plot in a single page? It’s impossible! I sat for hours in a coffee shop with my laptop, typing and deleting over and over again. What I ended up writing about wasn’t very memorable, but I do recall being exhausted when it was finished. Needless to say, it was one of the most frustrating and rewarding exercises I did in my entire program.
I still don’t think I’ve mastered the art of saying more in fewer words. It’s so much easier to just write. To let the ideas flow and revel in hefty word counts at the end of the day. And don’t even get me started on editing. So what do I do when I need to remind myself how to make every word count when there’s fewer of them? I turn to flash fiction.
In case you’re unfamiliar with flash fiction, it’s a style of writing defined by its brevity. Flash Fiction World describes it as “a unique type of story that has been whittled down to its essence whilst remaining a complete story, with plot, narrative, character/s, conflict, and resolution.” The word count can range from as few as fifty to as many as one thousand, and it’s a great exercise that I highly recommend.
So how can flash fiction help you as a writer?
1. It’s good practice. The very nature of writing within the restriction of a word count forces you to think past all those flowery words you want to put down, and cut to the heart of a character.
2. It gets your head out of your character’s…head. Stuck on a scene? Your hero or heroine isn’t talking to you? Switching to the point of view of a brand new character for a completely commitment-free piece can help break a block.
3. You get to meet new people. With all the different flash fiction contests available on the interwebs, not only will you get to play with other writers and broaden your virtual social circle, but you’ll also get more people to see your mad skills.
4. Some of the contests have prizes! (*Cue the ooohs and aaahs*)
5. It’s fun!
Where can you write flash fiction?
There are lots of contests out there. Some are time-focused like Five Minute Fiction. Some keep to a very short and challenging word count, like 55 Word Fiction. As I participated in these and several other contests, my thoughts kept drifting to the erotic. A photo of a lush forest became the optimal a place for sex against a tree. A dangerous, winding staircase became a blindfolded walk up to a dungeon or playroom. I thought there might be others like me out there, so I searched for a flash fiction contest that was full of…well…smut. And when I discovered there wasn’t one out there, I made my own
Behold, the birth of Sinful Sunday.
Sinful Sunday is an all erotic flash fiction contest. There’s yummy photos to get your, erm, juices flowing. There’s a word prompt, but synonyms are often used too, cause that’s how I roll. And best of all, you get to snag a fancy badge if you win.
In the almost thirty weeks since I started this contents, I’ve been blown away by the writing I’ve seen. The participants are so talented, the vibe among them is so supportive and fun, and best of all, I don’t have to judge! The winner or runner up from the previous week’s contest is always the next week’s judge. The difficulty of moderating a contest like this is finding new participants.
So, have I convinced you yet? What are you waiting for? Jump in the flash fiction pool. I promise not to bite…hard.
Bio: Rebecca Grace Allen has been writing derivative adult fiction since 2009. An aspiring erotica author, Rebecca Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Literary Comparison. She has a novel in the works as well as a novella, and has several short stories lurking around on her computer. Rebecca Grace is an avid reader, a caffeine addict and incessant gym-rat. When not writing she can be found at Starbucks, or a spin or boxing class. She lives in New York with her husband, and a cat with a very unusual foot fetish.