Saturday, June 6, 2015

35 Tips for Writing Flash: Setting/Weather/Crowds as Characters, A Sense of Meaning

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 1 ("Small Frame"),  
CHAPTERS 2 & 3 ("The House Theory" & "Slice-of-Life Stories"),
CHAPTERS 4 & 5 ("Compression, Minimalism" & "A Striking Title")
CHAPTERS 6 & 7 ("The First Few Lines" & "I Want It But I Can't Have It, So I'll...")
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")

 Setting, Weather, and Crowds as Characters

Nature offers terrific characters. Bad weather such as storms and tornadoes set up atmosphere, story, and foreshadowing by their unpredictable behavior. Unusual characters, such as crowds or mountains, can reflect a character's emotions like a mirror. A tense leader will create a ense crowd, and vice versa. The mountains appear dark and gloomy in a storm and can reflect the main character's mood.

n "Agoraclaustrophobia" the Australian wilderness plays the part of reflecting the daughter's fears.

Prompts: Your character lives on a remote research facility in the Antarctic. A blizzard approaches. What happens to the main character during the blizzard?

Let a crowd behave badly. How does this offer conflict and tension? What does the main character do to survive the crowd's behavior? What does the crowd want and how will the crowd achieve its desire? What will block the people from getting what they want?

A Sense of Meaning

The reader must care about your main character. If the reader doesn't care what happens to him/her, the story won't matter and the reader will not read on. Create a character of interest or a character in an interesting situation.

What are the stakes for the main character?

The higher the stakes, the higher the tension.

In flash, the compressed size limits dynamic change. Change in the character or the situation will not be huge, but the scene can demonstrate a small episode with a situational or character change. In "Agoraclaustrophobia" the father found a solution to the broken-down car while the daughter experienced overwhelming anxiety. This tension was relieved when the father returned. We have a change in situation and a change in character emotion.

Prompts: Shady, precious, giant. Write a scene using these 3 words in any order, creating a character of interest. Restrict the scene to 100 words or fewer.

Or, open a thesaurus and close your eyes. Randomly pick 3 words to combine into a tiny story. 

Click here for CHAPTER 18 ("Point of View") & 19 ("Tense Choice")

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