Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Write a Really Really Short Story

About a month ago I came across a ‘how-to’ idea for writing short, short fiction, sometimes called ‘flash fiction.’ I was too busy then to pay much attention to it, but it hung itself up on a hook in the back of my brain, ready for me to take it down when the time came. And tonight, as I write this, I remember the idea, but not where it came from. I’ve looked all over the internet, and can’t find the reference to the person who came up with it. (So, if you know where this idea came from let me know! I like to give credit where credit is due.)

But here it is: you begin by writing the climactic scene, and then you work back from there to the beginning little by little. What an intriguing idea, I thought. Someday, I’m going to try that!
I guess the reason I am so interested in writing short is that I just finished a long. Eight days ago I typed The End on a book manuscript that has been haunting me for - no joke - six years. I sent it to my agent with a great sigh of relief. But to be fair, during that time, I also wrote six books for Harlequin. But even through the writing of all of then, the idea for this mystery series was simmering in my imagination. So, it was with great relief that I finished it. (It had been one of my New Year’s Resolutions!)
I took last week off. And for a week I did no writing. I just read. Sometimes we writers just need to fill the well. Partway through the week I took 'the idea’ down from the coat hook. It might be fun to write a book from back to front. I always write mine from front to back, and usually don’t even know who the murderer is until the second to the last chapter. And that’s a scary place to be.
I like reading short stories. I also like writing them and have had several published in anthologies and more online as eBooks, but I’ve never written a story back to front. I’d be interested in your experiences. Do you write stories from the beginning to the end? Or do you write the climax first and then work back from there? What works?
Here are a few links on writing short fiction: