The seeds of flash fiction week were planted when I was thinking about short novels. Reading a good story in twenty minutes can be memorable and powerful, but reading a vignette in the time it takes to microwave popcorn–that can be overwhelming.
I was hoping the Nose’s writers would produce good stories, but every one that we ran has stuck with me in some way. Brevity can be attained at the expense of obvious complexity, but when the story is an outstanding one, something can be added, something sophisticated and hard to explain.
To get that word count down, one can choose to discard characters, or scenes, or even skeins of plot; or one can choose to discard adjectives or adverbs, ones that are not pulling their weight quite as well as their neighbors. But last week’s story criteria–not only a maximum word count but a requirement that there be three characters in each tale–more or less presented writers with the choice of removing plot or description. (Nobody skimped on character development; all three stories packed an impressive amount of information into those 300 words.)
As one tries to tuck meaning into corners, a writer’s attention devolves to the shades of meaning in individual words, whether real or invented. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on the writer, and the story. (This can leave a part of a story unresolved. One can hope these discarded cores will prove useful in a future project.)
Writers from last week: How did the 3/300 limits change how you wrote your stories?