Thursday, July 13, 2017

35 Tips for Writing Flash: Four Keys to Revision & Writing Prose Poetry

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 1 ("Small Frame")  
CHAPTERS 2 & 3 ("The House Theory" & "Slice-of-Life Stories")
CHAPTERS 4 & 5 ("Compression, Minimalism" & "A Striking Title")
CHAPTERS 6 & 7 ("First Few Lines" & "I Want It But I Can't Have It...")
CHAPTERS 8 & 9 ("Kaye's Rule of Six C's" & "Compressed Scene/Story Line")
CHAPTERS 10 & 11 ("Stimulus/Response, Chronological Order" & "Whose Story Is it?")
CHAPTERS 12 & 13 ("Moving the Story Forward" & "The Shape of Flash")
CHAPTERS 14 & 15 ("Consequences of Desire Thwarted" & "Characters")
CHAPTERS 16 & 17 ("Setting, Weather, and Crowds as Characters" & "A Sense of Meaning")
CHAPTERS 18 & 19 ("Point of View" & "Tense Choice")
CHAPTERS 20 & 21 ("The Ticking Clock" & "Chekhov's Gun")
CHAPTERS 22 & 23 ("Don't Underestimate Your Reader" & "Word Weight")
CHAPTERS 24 & 25 ("Concrete Details/Imagery" & "CUT Adverbs/Adjectives")
CHAPTERS 26 & 27 ("Dialogue" & "The Verb 'To Be'")
CHAPTERS 28 & 29 ("Subtext/Implication/Backstory" & "Myths and Tales")
CHAPTERS 30 &31 ("Surprise the Reader & "Sentence Structure/Phrases")
CHAPTERS 32 & 33 ("Fixed and Experimental Forms" & "Mastering the Genre")

 The Four Keys to Revision: C.O.A.P.

  • Cut: eliminate unnecessary words, backstory, fillers 
  • Organize: ideas into a consistent and cohesive story line 
  • Add: fill gaps in clarity, add a word or line of dialogue to clarify a confusing story 
  • Polish: Perfect the grammar, check for consistence in point of view and tense, and the story's clarity. Review all previous tips and apply to your story. Voila. Time to submit the story for publication!

A Few Tips About Prose Poetry

Length does not define prose poetry, but length is one parameter that defines flash stories.

Poetry is about language and poetic device such as similes, alliteration, sentence structure, broken lines, verses, imagery.

Language in flash is concise and intense as in poetry, but does not flow into poetic devices or employ traditional forms, such as villanelles or sonnets. However, one can experiment with fixed forms in flash.

Flash most often carries a story line involving conflict and a change in the main character or situation. Poetry need not.

Poetry emphasizes the placement of words and is defined by line breaks.

Narrative poetry, prose poetry, and flash stories can overlap.

In poetry, the description can be a technique in and of itself and offers an overall image for the reader. In flash, the description must advance the narrative.

Poetry need not and often does not contain a plot. Flash usually, but not always contains a compressed plot.

When readers pick up poetry, they have a different set of expectations than on reading flash stories. They expect a story when reading flash, but do not expect a story when reading poetry.

Prose poetry asks readers to lay aside their rules and judgment and prepare for a surprise, a wild ride. Readers must make larger jumps than with flash, and read more deeply into subtext.

Prose poetry lends itself well to experimental writing and mixed forms.

Above all, remember to read your work aloud because this is the best way to hear mistakes, catch skips in rhythm or misplaced beats, hear inconsistent pacing, tense or point of view shifts.

Feel free to visit Kaye Linden's web site, contact her there, and sign up for her blog.

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