Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Short Stories Vs. Flash Fiction
I dislike writing short stories, yet I enjoy flash fiction. This preference is in accord with my extremist personality of “all or nothing.” To explain it more logically: Flash fiction is usually no more than a scene. It is a moment captured in time, less than 1000 words, often less than 500. With all my flash fiction pieces, I have started either for a challenge or with a prompt. It’s been fun. Regardless of whether it’s publishing worthy or not, it doesn’t take very long to write it once you get going. In contrast to that, short stories say between 1500 – 3000 words (though they could be much longer) require minimum 2 characters, fleshed out enough to carry the story. It requires beginning, middle and closure with a satifying ending. It requires much more effort and time. And for me, it’s always been difficult to come up with short stories, because they are what I call “middle ground”. They aren’t short enough like flash fiction to create as a snippet, and they are not long enough like a book to delve deeper into plot and characters. They are in the middle – and I resent putting in a lot of time for what turns out to be a 1500 words long story, often without much hope for publishing because markets are so limited and so rigid about their guidelines or for lousy pay (if any). Flash fiction, even unpublished or simply published for free, in my opinion is worth the effort, because it is more like a creative exercise. It teaches you to tell a story in a few words. It acts as a creative jump-start to get the juices flowing, and the commitment of time is so short that I don’t feel resentful if I don’t think it’s good enough to be published. With short stories, the frustration of coming up with suitable ideas for suitable legnths, the investment of time in creating characters and plots, and then creating a story, editing it – it’s just all too much. And as I have found again and again, not worth my time, because more often than not, the process gives me no joy, and the final product while often all right, still isn’t the kind of thing I get immensely excited about. Whereas flash fiction pieces, however short, usually contain far more satisfying stories for me. How do you feel about the two? Is there any particular reason why you like more one than the other?