Flash fiction as a writing aid

I’ve been trying to write a bit of Flash fiction purely as a learning process. By having to finish a story in 1,000 words or less I need to cut to the chase.

Among other things, I suffer from the infamous “as you well know” syndrome; that conversation that occurs solely for the benefit of the audience that would never happen in real life. (Unless you’re both drunk. In which case all bets are off)

Writing short fiction -against the clock- forces me to cut the crap and read what I’ve actually put down on paper, not what I meant to say. It’s sort of like that first edit, where you look at your work and go WTF???

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read what I’ve written I know what I was trying to say so my mind inserts the inflection, punctuation and sometimes entire sentences, that I didn’t include in the written copy.

These problems are compounded by the fact that I have trouble putting into words what I want the reader to know/understand/feel. So my solution is to buy more books. I know they won’t cure my problems, but, truth be told, I don’t want to be cured. I just want some help putting into words what I have running around in my head.
latest collection of books on writing that are unlikely to help my flash fiction writing.
Of those books, one of the poetry books is good, the four on writing give nothing but rehashed ideas and no original content, and Grammar Girl’s “quick and dirty tips” seems useful. So that’s two out of seven. Not bad for me…. The used booksellers on Amazon and eBay love me.

In case you’re unsure of what flash fiction is, here’s what the Wikipedia has to say.
Flash fiction is fictional work of extreme brevity that still offers character and plot development. Identified varieties, many of them defined by word count, include the six-word story, the 140-character story (also known as “twitterature”), the “dribble” (50 words), the “drabble” (also known as “microfiction”; 100 words), “sudden fiction” (750 words), flash fiction (1,000 words), nanotale, and “micro-story”.


As a side note: I was, recently, forcibly, retired. The folks that bought the business kept three younger people but didn’t need this old man.

As a result, I’m dealing with depression. Although the folks on the psych sites say that what I call situational depression isn’t real depression. I don’t remember what they do call it. All I know is that they like fancy word and technical details.

My point is: if this is happening to you, quit sulking, quit being a hermit, and get your ass out there an talk to someone. I don’t care if you’re just out tire-kicking wasting some car salesman’s time. Talk to someone, anyone, because, whether we like it or not, the need for human contact is built into our genes. It won’t fix the basic problem, but it might keep us from wandering down the street talking to ourselves like the rest of the crazies.

NaNoWriMo 1 me 0

I know it’s only the 28th, but I give up. National Novel Writing Month -NaNoWriMo- wins.

It did not kick my ass. It chewed me up, spit me out, and pissed on the pieces.

After 30,000 words I realized that I had contradicted –badly contradicted– pretty much everything I said in chapter one.

I tried to reconcile the two and that just ain’t gonna happen.

The personalities are diametrically opposed. For instance, personality #1 was a teetotaler and personality #2 always had a drink nearby. This was easy enough to explain, add something devastating to the dude’s life and it works. Unfortunately, it only works until the critical scene where he pulls a gun out of a nightstand and puts two 45 cal Hydra-Shoks in a man’s heart.

Needless to say this complicated matters to no end because the original guy had never owned or fired a gun in his life. The whole never deliberately hurting anyone was integral to his “live by your wits” point of view.

There were other small complications, however, the major problem was that the only way my hero could be both pacifist thief and gunslinger tough guy was to have multiple personalities.

This guys original personality was the story’s anchor, but up until the changes crept in he was boring, ungodly boring. The paradigm shift made him a lot more interesting.

I know what I did wrong, I wrote it one chapter at a time, only concentrating on the scene in front of me.

The end result, 30,000 wasted words, eyestrain, headaches, heartburn, and no frozen dinners left in the fridge.

I need a break. no more editing, no more grammar, no more punctuation, no more spelling, no more…

Inspiration for short stories

We were looking for inspiration when we decided to photograph things at random and use that.

This is a room where I’ve been replacing some flooring and installing a ceiling fan. Hence the wood scraps and wires.

As strange as it sounds coming from a guy, I wanted to make the bed and clean up the mess. But she vetoed the idea, she says the mess makes the room look lived in.

Lived in, by some homeless guy maybe.

At any rate, here are the two photos.

Cluttered room in sepia.
room in sepia
Possibly a low rent loft lived in by a musician. At least he has a window.

Same room, same clutter, image inverted.
inverted color in room
Through the eyes of a serial killer?

So here we have our inspiration. One room in sepia daylight, and one dolled up like a low budget special effect.

She sent them off to a former writing instructor who liked them. It seems that his poor defenseless students are about to be stuck with these two choices.

On the other hand, if you’re an aspiring writer and you can’t make a tale from any image, perhaps you should keep your day job.

For my part, I’m not sure I need inspiration, so much as to get my characters to cut to the chase and quit sounding like Marc Anthony in Julius Cesar.

Writer’s reality vs other people’s reality

A writer’s reality is much different than that of so-called normal people. (If you think writers are normal, either you don’t know any, or you need to get back on your meds.)

When you see me staring into space, this is where I really am.
canyon's edge Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

When I type, I think I look like this.
writer's light speed typing

But, this is how most other people, including my publisher, see me.
My writer's speed

This is what people seem to think my office looks like.
desk by Jeff Sheldon unslpash

What my office really looks like.
my cluttered desk
Pencils, pencil sharpener, note cards, note pad, phone charger, etc.

Why is it that nothing looks like it does on TV? I not only have too much shit junk and crap, it seems like everything has at least two cords hanging out of the back.

And then, taking up one corner of my desk, there’s my ancient iMac I used to use for voiceover. –Long story…. Never Again!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, as usual, I’m doing several projects at once, but it doesn’t show until you watch me a while.

    I’m redesigning a couple of web pages while trying not to mess with the SEO. (I’ve already been paid, so I have to do it.)

    I’m re-re-writing a short story trying to finish somewhere near 6,000 words, while keeping my publisher happy.

Fortunately, writing this blog constitutes a break, because nobody cares if it get’s published or not. But it’s still taken over an hour out of my day.

Deep breath, step back, hit the go button, and move on to important stuff.