Henckel wrote:I've got a solid grasp if T/F cycles, but struggle to fit three of them into a flash story. If I do, I feel like their either shallow or I go over the word count. Though, I appreciate this is a key learning from for this exercise.
I wonder, however, if flash fiction requires three try/Fail cycles. I've often read flash where the MC has a beginning state with a goal, attempts to achieve the goal, and then has an ending state. The whole thing feels like only 1 T/F. Is this legitimate?
In the story I'm working on now, I'm starting the story in the 1st T/F, setting up the situation as I go. I'm new to flash, so I hope I'm doing this right.
Here's my progress:
. 1104 words - original story.
. 664 words - after first "Killing your darlings" pass
. 404 words - after second "Killing your darlings" pass
. 334 words - after third "Killing your darlings" pass
. [tba] words - after fourth (and final) "Killing your darlings" pass
Like I said above, don't feel pressured to do three try/fails in flash. You don't have the space--it will quite often just make a rushed, shallow story if you do that. Focus on a scene, with some back story, and a climactic moment. I left you a sample of one of my flash stories that was published. It's in those exercises we did. "Last Words." But others did great ones as well.
In the passes you did above, you should have discovered something at the 404 word reduction on down. You stopped cutting and had to focus on rephrasing. Finding one word that said three. Manipulating sentences to get the same idea across with less. There's a shift that happens as you get into that range. You have to rethink your story, what the essence is, and focus everything on telling that.
It's an exercise. It's not about writing stripped to the bone stories. It's an exercise to teach us how to get to the point in our stories, and how to say more with less.
It's good training. Ken Rand wrote THE TEN PERCENT SOLUTION, his premise being that every story can lose about 10% fat and be stronger and healthier for it. This is great advice for experienced writers. For most new writers? That hamburger product they're churning out can be as much as 30, 40, even 50% fat! And they don't even know it!
This exercise can help new writers write leaner and meaner. You are forced to exercise your editing muscles in fitting that story into smaller space, and you'll find when you go to write a regular short story, those word skills become automatic. You put down tighter word combinations as you create, without having to go back and edit out.
Have at it. When done, let it sit for awhile. You see, there's a surprise gift from this exercise. As your little story sits under so much compressed concentration, you might find when you return to it one day, it's going to burst forth with power. Your subconscious will want to release it, and it's already got pathways to send those shoots up through the gray matter. That's what I found.