Wednesday, November 7, 2018

5 Reasons to Write Short Stories and Flash Fiction

5 Reasons This Novelist Writes Short Stories and Flash Fiction
by Rebecca Douglass
  1. If I can learn to say it, and say it well, in 1000 words (or 3000, or 5000), I will have learned something that will strengthen all my prose. A word limit forces a writer to think about each word, as well as how each sentence is put together, and whether each sentence contributes to the story. Even a 5000 word short, let alone a 500-word flash, has no room for meandering thought-processes, repetition, or dead-end plot threads. The form forces me to plot tightly and edit carefully, and we all need practice at that (and since the stories are short, I can get more practice!). Each length tests me in different ways, which is why I practice with everything from #Fi50 (50 word shorts) to 5000-word stories.
  2. Short fiction allows me to play with genre. I’m not interested in writing a horror novel, or a whole book of Weird West or slightly racy romance. But 1000 words? Sure, why not? And so I learn how to do a little different kind of writing, discover a new genre (seriously, following genre mash-up prompts has introduced me to a number of genres, or at least sub-genres, I never heard of), and improve my skills.
  3. Short fiction is easy to submit for publication. Lots of places publish short fiction, like our own IWSG Anthologies! Almost all of them take on-line submissions, and most give a quick response, which means I can submit the story elsewhere (or take a long hard look at why it’s getting rejected) without a long wait.
  4. Short stories help me out of slumps and back into my novel. When life is too busy or overwhelming, it’s hard to keep up work on a large, unwieldy piece of fiction. Sometimes my writing time gets fragmented and greatly reduced while I deal with other things. But I can draft a bit of flash fiction in an hour or two, and come back to edit it the next time I have an hour. Because finishing anything is a big boost, it helps to tackle some projects I know I can complete quickly, before the next eruption of chaos.
  5. Getting a short story published rocks! I was totally over the moon when my story was selected for Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, the 2017 IWSG Anthology. That was a huge psychological boost. But it doesn’t end there, because having short stories out there makes me and my novels more “discoverable.” So maybe, just maybe, writing short fiction can help me sell novels.
About the Author 
After a lifetime of reading, and a decade or more of slinging books at the library and herding cats with the PTA, Rebecca began to turn her experiences into books of her own, publishing her first in 2012.  Despite the unlimited distractions provided by raising sons to the point of leaving home, she has managed to pen a total of 7.9 books (the 8th is due out soon).

For those who enjoy murder and mayhem with a sense of humor, Rebecca’s Pismawallops PTA mysteries. If you prefer tall tales and even less of a grip on reality, visit Skunk Corners in The Ninja Librarian and the sequels Return to Skunk Corners and The Problem of Peggy. For those who’ve always thought that fantasy was a bit too high-minded, a stumble through rescues and escapes with Halitor the Hero should set you straight.

Rebecca writes so many different kinds of books because she has a rich lifetime of experience that requires expression. She also has a short attention span—squirrel!

Connect with Rebecca here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

10 Ways to Fit in Writing

10 Ways to Fit in Writing -- When You Have a Day Job
by Christine Clemetson
What do you do when you want to write full-time, but you have a day job that takes you to work forty plus hours a week? And you have a family, a house, and all the responsibilities in between. Phew! Right?

It takes perseverance to keep writing and submitting when time is limited. Here are ten quick ideas to get your words in:
  1. Use the Notes app on your phone to jot down character traits during the day.
  2. Write a story idea over morning coffee.
  3. Use a voice recorder app to get ideas down during a morning run or walking the dog.
  4. Listen to writing podcasts on your work commute to learn craft and stir up creative juices.
  5. Solve plot problems while waiting in line at the store, gas station, etc.
  6. At lunch time, bring a notebook or laptop to a bench outside or a local park.
  7. Think up scene ideas during the afternoon break.
  8. While dinner is in the oven, create a character’s goal/motivation/conflict.
  9. Write in the car while your kids are at soccer practice.
  10. Use the weekends or your days off  to transcribe all those notes into your manuscript.
One more … Thinking about your characters or plot is writing!

BONUS STEP: When you’re busy at work and tired, and can’t imagine writing when you get home, visualize your love for writing. Imagine your published book in your hands. Feel it with your fingers clutching the pages. Close your eyes and smell the paper. Put a stickie note up on your bathroom mirror with your favorite motivational quote!   Use those images to keep your dream right in front of you. You got this!

About the author...
Christine Clemetson was born to write stories. She can’t even remember a time when she wasn’t listening to the whispers of characters telling her their stories. She just had to put them down on paper, otherwise, how would we find out how they lived –or how they died for that matter?

Besides Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew was Christine's ultimate hero growing up in the small beach town of Point Pleasant, NJ. When Nancy, Bess, and George got together for the latest adventure, she stayed with them until it was solved—even if it took the whole morning on my beach towel.

Soon Christine realized her own stories couldn’t wait any longer. Through reading and writing, she found her niche writing scary stories–the ones that send you under the covers! If you’re a reader, writer, or love everything in between, please join Christine for some fun topics. And most of all, get inspired!

Connect with Christine here:
Center Lane by Christine Clemetson

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Short Story - A Snapshot of Life

What I like about short stories is they’re short, of course, and you have a nice, tidy story wrapped up in less than an hour. Most short stories take about a half hour to read, some more, some less. What it boils down to is a snapshot of someone’s life. The timeline of the story is typically short, as well. Sometimes, the action takes place in a few minutes. Other times, a few days go by. It teaches us, as writers, to think about time, and how it adds intensity to the story.

I might be thinking that way because my story, One More Minute, is in the Tick Tock: A Stitch in Time Anthology. Time was a necessary element in our stories. Still, as I think about the next contest theme, and prompt, my mind goes to the timeline. The story I want to tell will probably take place in less than week, maybe even a weekend.

Do you think about time when you write? A writing instructor talked to us about how important time is in a story. How do you feel when a character is constantly checking her watch? Do you feel tension when the character in your story is late for an appointment? What if someone is rushing into something, a building, a relationship, a decision?

perfect setting for a murder??

I dropped my rusty, old minivan off at a junkyard. My friend was on her way to pick me up, but I got delayed in the “office” (i.e. an RV parked at the entrance of the junkyard) and couldn’t go out to meet her. She started to worry about me, so she called my cellphone. I heard it ringing but couldn’t pick up because I was talking to the owner about the van and getting signatures on the title. It was past the time I said I’d be done. She called again. I quickly picked up and said, “I’m in the office,” and hung up.

When I finally came out of the RV/office, she had her hand on the phone ready to call 9-1-1. She said, “I didn’t know where you were.” I said, “I was in the office.”

“That wasn’t helpful,” she said. “The office could have been anywhere. I looked out over that field of old cars and thought, there’s a lot of evidence out there for murders.”

Now, that’s a great set-up for a mystery. A fictional one. I’m happy to say that I came out alive. We had a good laugh about it on our way to the gym, and I kept thinking:
Timing is everything in a story.

Mary Aalgaard writes theater reviews and supports the arts through her blog Play off the Page. She teaches youth theater workshops in the Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota, writes articles for regional magazines, and works with both seniors and youth in multi-generational programs to enhance quality of life and build community.

Mary is also a freelance writer and blogger. Her words stretch across the globe through her blogs and articles. Her writing extends to plays as she works with both children and adults to create original dramas. She gives private piano, and writing lessons, and theatre workshops for kids at Central Lakes College.

Go. Create. Inspire!