Saturday, 15 September 2012

Being a Flash Fictioneer (like a writing Musketeer...or something similar...)

Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
Scribbling notes onto scrap paper, improvising stories in the playground, acting 'spies' in the park with my brother and creating long detailed character lists for future epics was how I spent half my childhood...drawing and reading occupied the other half!

Then I grew up and life got busy!

I continued to imagine and write, but barely more than a diary entry or shopping list...
It took years before my confidence recovered enough to allow my creative side freedom once more. When my youngest was born I began to write again creating a world of fantasy and dragons for my children, and I knew I had to let my writing develop wings of its own.

After discovering Twitter, some random follows lead me to Five Sentence Fiction with Lillie McFerrin. Over Christmas last year I read lots of entries, but wasn't sure of blogging etiquette and whether I could just join in...I could! I threw myself in feet first with Clandestine and there it was my first ever Flash Fiction!
I got some encouraging comments, another first for my humble little blog, and I couldn't wait for the following week's word, hoping my ability to string together a little paragraph with a twist wasn't just a 'flash in the pan' (pun intended!)
The following week gave my writing purpose and creativity.
Til then everything I'd written over ten years had been lengthy works in progress and one finished book. I hadn't written anything short, bar occasional poetry. Five sentences had fired my brain, making me think hard and forcing me to create a whole story in nothing more than a few lines.
It made me confront structure, characters, language, nuances, metaphors and twists; I even had to brush up on grammar, though I'm no way an expert, so forgive a few semi-colons lurking where they shouldn't!
Five sentences had me trying prose, a snapshot of a moment, a whole story and many other variations in creative writing in response to a single prompt word.

And along the way I made friends who, without knowing, built up not only my self-confidence and writing skills, but my self-worth at the same time.

When, in April, I saw many friends entering Anna Meade and Susi Holliday's Once Upon A Time Contest I read the entries eagerly, but didn't think I could enter, then several bloggers asked if I was, and I suddenly realised I'd become part of a wonderfully supportive writing community, and if I believed in my writing it was time to diversify! So I entered and this adventure ended with my story being included in the Once Upon A Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales book amongst authors I really admire!

Since then my Flash Fictioneering has grown, my blog has become a writer's blog and my skills have expanded.

I've taken part in the Forbidden Love Bloghop hosted by LillieRuth and Janelleyearningforwonderland's Faerytaleish Pinterest Contest with The Coat, for which I got an Honourable Mention, and Waiting; I wrote an Unzombie Tale for zombiemechanics flash fiction contest and completed Terri Long's Blogflash2012.
I've written actual stories, learning how to craft and structure, I've learned how to cut what doesn't matter. I've learned  how every word counts, especially in anonymouslegacy's Visual Dare and jezri's Nightmare's 55 Word Challenge, both Angela and Lisa's challenges show that every word makes a difference and you quickly discover what you don't need!
These visual prompts allowed me to explore different genres and ideas and put me on the spot, 55 Words only allows 24 hours...think fast!

Becoming a Flash Fictioneer has helped me no end, there are still new prompts I want to try sweetbananaink's Friday Night Write's musical prompt chief among them, though I've learned that right now my weekend's are usually too busy to write! And try oneword my latest find, hit the button, see the word and you have sixty seconds to write!

So if you want to flex those creative muscles, get over to one of these sites, I shouldn't need to prompt you now, should I?

*Note: There are other Flash Fiction sites available: glitterword's Tuesdaytalescaramichaels Menagemonday and Donna B. McNichol's Write4ten to name a few. If I'm missing any you love, feel free to comment below!

16 comments:

  1. This post is wonderful. I am so glad you started flexing those flash fiction muscles, because the world needs to read your writing. I look forward to reading your writing, because it's always amazing, interesting, and full of heart. Thank you for this rockstar shout out :)

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    1. Thanks Lillie, Five Sentences was a revelation and I'm so glad I found it. I can't even remember who I followed on Twitter and how I found your site, but I'll always be grateful!

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  2. I've been hearing a lot about flash fiction, but haven't gotten around to trying it out myself. Thanks for the sites- I'm heading on over!

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    1. Oh, do it! It's helped me so much with my longer works, rewriting and editing...keeps my creative side ticking over nicely!

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  3. Your story is so similar to mine I only started writing flash fiction this year and I'm sure it has helped my writing too.
    And the friends I've met along the way have been wonderful. Isn't it amazing where a few follows on Twitter can lead?
    I used to wonder, with all these fantastic writers out there, where I fitted in, we all have a dream to be published and there have been times I've doubted if I'm good enough. Now just knowing there is even a small community out there looking forward to reading the next story is exciting.

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    1. So true Sarah! I was floundering with my writing and knowing where to take it next...so joining Twitter was to try and glean information and to try and get my book out there, but I'm so glad I didn't go down the book pushing line! I've barely mentioned it on twitter and only written a couple of blog posts on it, so all in all Twitter and Blogging has introduced me to this amazing community and their encouragement has been a powerful motivator to work harder and better! It's great, isn't it?

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  4. Its funny how unsure everything is in the beginning, until you stumble across a prompt or two, and find yourself in the midst of a flash community :)

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    1. And such a wonderful and supportive community too! :)

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  5. So pleased to see such praise for FSF and Lillie.

    I would die without flash fiction... It's what I do best..x

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    1. I'm very grateful I found FSF, thanks for your comment! :)

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  6. This post truly inspires me to keep writing, keep trying, and seek out new places to stretch my wings! I am new to Five Sentence Fiction and I can already tell I'm going to love it!

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    1. Glad you're enjoying it Josie, it's taught me so much and I now know my own style inside out! I love the opportunity to try something new too.

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  7. In all honesty, writing fiction like that is probably the best way to jumpstart any kind of writing career. It definitely forces you to be able to sum up your point in as few words as possible.

    I may not comment a lot on what you've written here, but I can definitely tell you that I've enjoyed everything that you've posted and shared.

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    1. I really appreciate your comment, I've learned more experimenting with flash fiction than I have since leaving school! I'm glad you've enjoyed my writing, it means a lot to me.

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  8. Since Terri's BlogFlash I keep coming back to dip in and out of your blog. I have enjoyed my first tentative steps and was interested to read your account of how you got started - thank you x.

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    1. Thanks for popping over Lesley, I saw your choice for bathroom chandelier the other day!

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