Bacopa Literary Review

Sunday, May 24, 2015

35 Tips for Writing Flash: The First Few Lines and I Want it But I Can't Have It, So I'll...

In the current posts, Bacopa Literary Review Flash Story Editor Kaye Linden generously shares chapters from her book, 35 Tips for Writing a Brilliant Flash Story: a Manual of Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Writing.

CHAPTER ONE ("Small Frame"),  
CHAPTERS 2 and 3 ("The House Theory" & "Slice-of-Life Stories"),
CHAPTERS 4 AND 5 ("Compression, Minimalism" and "A Striking Title")


CHAPTER 6
The First Few Lines

The first few lines orient the reader to the flash. They present the foundation of the house and give the story line its cornerstone.

In a very short story, begin the action or the first few lines in media res, in the middle of things. In "Agoraclaustrophobia," the first two lines set up the story: the where (Australian desert, the last time she visited, driving to his childhood home), when, how, why:
"The last time I visited my father, we drove to his childhood home--Thousand Acre Sheep Station, dead center Northern Territory, an endless expanse of red soil and gum trees, fenceless and defenseless from hungry dingoes and buzzards."
The desolate setting is detailed and the background implied (the daughter is visiting). This one introductory sentence offers important information to orient the reader.

Prompt: Write 3 lines to introduce the reader to the middle of an action scene. Who is in the scene, where does it take place, what happens? Get right into the middle of the action, orient and hook the reader.


CHAPTER 7
I Want It, But I Can't Have It, So I'll . . .

The very definition of story is "human desire thwarted."

For a story to offer interest to the reader, conflict must exist. When the main character does not get what s/he wants or needs, conflict arises and launches the story line.

Prevent a character from getting what s/he wants and you have a story.

The father in "Agoraclaustrophobia" wants to get to his childhood home but is prevented from doing so when his car breaks down in the middle of the desert and he must search for material to repair the radiator hose. What happens as a result of the breakdown in the desert? The impact of the situation affects not only the father but the daughter. He must search for a solution to a potentially life-threatening breakdown in a desert and the daughter must cope with fears of abandonment.

Prompt: Recall something you have wanted. What prevented you from getting it? List the consequences of not getting what you want.

Click here for CHAPTER 8 ("Kaye's Rule of Six C's") 
and CHAPTER 9 ("Compressed Scene and Story Line")


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