Guest Post: Laura Besley on Writing Flash Fiction

Today's guest post is from my flash fiction guru, Laura Besley.  Originally from the UK, Laura currently lives in Hong Kong where she teaches English as a second language.  She is a published author, her short story "Dear Sylvia" can be found in As We See It:  Hong Kong, by the Hong Kong Writer's Circle.

Laura maintains a blog, Living Loving and Writing, wherein she shares the flavor of Hong Kong and the product of her flash fiction adventures.

Find my review of As We See It: Hong Kong and an interview with Laura here.
  —A Chaotic Mind

And now, our feature attraction:

Little and Often — How Flash Fiction can help you improve your writing

by Laura Besley


Flash Fiction is the new kid on the block, so to speak, and the definition isn’t yet 100% concrete, but basically it’s a piece of fiction that is really short. Flash Fiction is usually between 250-1000 words, but I’ve personally set my limit at max of 500 words (no minimum). Due to people’s increasing lack of time and the fact that it can easily be read on an iphone or ipad, the popularity is growing.

On 4th May 2012 I started a writing challenge: to write a piece of flash fiction every day and to put ‘the best of the week’ up onto my blog on a Friday and that’s how, for me, Friday Flash Fiction was launched.

The easy bits

Writing five hundred words a day isn’t that much of a challenge. Most of us probably do it without thinking about it (think of all those emails you send, memos you write, etc.) Thinking of the idea also doesn’t usually prove too hard. I keep a notebook and if an idea comes to me, I’ll just jot it down and use it at a later date. Writing the first paragraph also usually comes quite easily. The real problem for me is developing the story and how to finish it. And the endless tweaking, of course!

The hard bits

As a writer there are many ways to write and my style was always to start writing and see where my story ended up (as opposed to other people who like to map out a story before they start writing). I never really had any trouble starting, but always struggled with finding a suitable ending. And now I have to find seven endings a week! This has probably been the hardest thing for me, but I think it’s helping me see the benefit of at least having an idea of where the story is going before I start writing.

The challenge continues

One of the great things about writing such short pieces is that you can afford to be experimental as you’re not investing huge chunks of time. I’ve tried many different styles, such as fantasy, sci-fi, stream of consciousness, none of which come naturally, but it’s interesting to see how it pans out.

At the moment I have a fabulous writing buddy who I meet once a week. Together we look at three or four of the stories and see how they can be improved. Recently I’d had a bad writing week and sent her a few from the early days and she very kindly told me that she thought my writing had already moved on from there. Encouraging words are always appreciated!

If you’d like to check out any of my flash fiction pieces, you can find them on my blog: Living Loving and Writing.
—Laura Besley

1 comment:

G. Hugh Bodell said...

Flash Fiction, what a great innovation and tool to stay on top of writing skills, experimenting and learning.

I am currently in a situation where I hesitate to start my forth novel which will take me into a slightly different genre. I would like to start writing pieces that would give me both experience in the genre and a platform to test if anyone thinks I have the talent to get there by commenting on my work.

I read the piece by Laura Besley on Writing Flash Fiction this morning on my iPhone and the light bulb went on.

Thanks so very much Penny for the continuing, informative and ever interesting articles you publish in Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind.