Tuesday 20 October 2020

Allison Symes, recently published by Chapeltown, put us straight about Flash Fiction

I'm pleased to invite on to the blog today Allison Symes whose latest collection of Flash Fiction, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, we have recently published through our Chapeltown imprint.  Allison recently attended one of our authors' afternoons and talked to us about Flash Fiction.  She has kindly reproduced for us much of what she said there.      


What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is any story up to 1000 words. I prefer to write to sub-500 and my natural home is anything between 100 to 350 words. 

Flash fiction is nothing new either. It has been around for centuries. Think about Aesop’s Fables or the parables of Jesus in the Bible. They come in at well under 1000 words!

So, Allison, why do you write Flash Fiction?

The simple answer is I love it! Why? I’ve always found inventing characters to be the most fun when creating a story. Flash fiction has to be character led and so I am getting to invent new people all the time. So win-win for me here.

Why do you say Flash Fiction is character led?

The word count restriction does mean you haven’t got room for lots of lovely description. Every word you use has to “punch its weight” to justify being in your story.

Focusing on the character, their thoughts and actions helps reduce word count and makes the story more immediate. That’s important for the very short form.


How does Flash Fiction help writers?  

It teaches you to edit effectively. You have to make every word count so you write with precision and edit with even more! Whatever you write, that is helpful.

Flash fiction shows up to you as the writer what your wasted words are so those are the first you cut on your initial edit.

It can be a useful warm-up writing exercise.

When you are short on time, you can draft a flash fiction piece quickly. And you will still have written something you can polish later and submit to a market and/or competition.

It is easy to use as “adverts” on your website, Facebook etc. I will every so often share a flash story like this as a kind of marketing exercise.

What about competitions? Do you try them? Are there many for writers of Flash Fiction?

Flash is now a category in many competitions including The Bridport Prize.   

Writing Magazine will often hold competitions asking for 500 word stories, 750 word tales, etc. That’s flash fiction. And there are plenty of competitions online.

Entering competitions regularly is a good writing discipline and will help you hone your skills. So why not give the flash ones a go?

Do you think Flash Fiction has become more popular because of the new technology we have available?   

Yes, I’m certain the rise in technology with I-pads, smart phones etc., has helped boost the popularity of flash. It is easy to read on a screen.  

Flash is easy to share on Facebook and the very short form is ideal for sharing on Twitter. 

And flash is a great counter-argument for those who say they have no time to read! What, really? Given we spend so much time on our phones these days, why not read on them as well?



So, what would you say is vital about Flash Fiction? 

It isn’t the word count!

The most important thing about flash fiction is it must be a proper story. There has to be a beginning, middle and end.

There has to be some sort of conflict which is resolved.  

It is NOT truncated prose! 

And that old word count… there is more flexibility there than you think. I’ve written across the spectrum from one line stories to 1000 words and pretty much everything in between. You can have fun with this – and I do! Hope you can too.

So, tell us about your latest collection of Flash Fiction and where we can buy it. 

My latest collection from Chapeltown Books is called Tripping The Flash Fantastic. The funny thing is I didn't start out writing flash fiction at all. Indeed I'd not even heard of it when I began writing. I discovered flash fiction thanks to a CaféLit challenge and have been hooked on the form ever since. And with my new book, I have had even more fun playing with where and when I set my characters. I think the best thing I can do is share the blurb for TTFF.

In this follow-up to her "From Light to Dark and Back Again", Allison will take you back in time, into some truly criminal minds, into fantasy worlds, and show you how motherhood looks from the viewpoint of a dragon. Enjoy the journey!

Click on the image to view on Amazon. Contact Allison or Chapeltown for a free e-book if you would like to review.


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