Writing

Looking Back: A Year of Short Stories and Flash Fiction

In May of 2010 I began an adventure.

I had spent the months prior to that fighting to finish a fantasy novel of ‘epic proportions.’  And by that I mean – it was already 80,000 words long and it was only about a fifth of the way into the story.  I was doing everything wrong and all of my character arcs ended far too soon.

I was defeated.  I didn’t know how to proceed.

So I decided to take a break.  I wasn’t getting anywhere trying to write this novel.  Trilogy.  Series.  Whatever.

Thus in May I began one of my first short stories since I was in middle school.  My short story skills were rusty if they existed at all.  Towards the end of May I finished my first short story – “Cruel as The Grave”, and submitted it to the British Fantasy Society Short Story Contest.  Did it win? Not at all.

But it was a great experience.

I was immediately hooked.

Since then I have written roughly twenty short stories and flash fiction pieces.  Twenty stories in one year.  Is that a bad ratio?  Perhaps.

But I’m getting better.  When I first started this adventure I would write about one story a month.  In the last three months, that rate has double to more like one story every two weeks.

This adventure has taught me a lot.  I’ve learned to save words.  To cut unnecessary information.  I’ve recognized info dumps and how they can ruin a story.  I’ve learned how to make vague references to a character’s history – enough to entice the reader, not bog them down in unnecessary back story.

I’ve learned how to avoid cliches.  How to properly use the semi-colon.  I’ve discovered my own distinct style – my penchant for fragment sentences, and my need for caution in abusing them.

I’ve learned that my writing reflects who I am.  And that it’s more about expressing myself and writing because I have this burning need to – than about getting published or making money (although that’s nice to!).

In the end, I have enjoyed this journey supremely.  And I don’t think it’s over.  If at all possible, I’d like to double my current short story/flash fiction numbers.  And after I’ve given every attempt to get them published – my desire is to ‘self-publish’ a collection of my works.

And after that?  Or during that?  Well, I just might get started on my novel again.  This time better prepared.  This time knowing more.  This time with better tools and a sharper mind.

What does all of this mean for you? Well, maybe it just means if you feel like you’re stuck in a writing rut – branch out.  Try something new.  Shorter.  Longer.  Only dialogue.  Use a writing prompt.  Write.  Polish.  Submit.  Don’t worry about it being the next New York Time’s Best Seller.

Just write.  And just love it.

I know that’s what I’m doing!

~Alexis A. Hunter

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2 thoughts on “Looking Back: A Year of Short Stories and Flash Fiction

  1. This is all great. I liked this post a while ago but haven’t gotten a chance to comment. So. I’m doing that now.

    I might suggest even going further and storyboarding (whether you can draw or not) some scenes from what you’re trying to write. Writing in a different format, screenplay, stageplay, poetry, can also help. At least it has, me.

    I should have made you aware of this before… but you can still do it since it’s not too far into may. This is storyaday.org. It’s a challenge to write a short story every day in may.

    I’m writing mine as a collection called “May, I write of death.” (Death is my theme, don’t know why… my first two just sort of brought that out.

    The stories can be any length as long as they’re coherent. I think it’s right up your alley.

  2. I did see your stories from the storyaday challenge and checked the site out. I don’t know if I’ll have the time (*cough* err…determination) to do a story every day, but I love the idea of it. 🙂

    I hadn’t thought of storyboarding…it’s a great idea. Of course they’ll be stick figures for sure, but heck, if it helps me write, why not!

    Thanks for reading. 🙂

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