Category Archives: guest blog

How to Write Flash Fiction by Kimberly Duffy, editor of Spark

Life is busy. There’s kids, cooking, work, grocery shopping, and all-too-often trips to the ER. Sometimes opening up a good book feels like a vacation—which is probably the only time you have to read.

And then you’re a writer, so you must write. But what do you do when all of those kids and chores and stitches interfere, the clock has struck midnight, and you’re still scraping burnt chicken Cacciatore from the bottom of your frying pan?

Enter Flash fiction.

A story fewer than 1,000 words—complete with a beginning, middle, and end, dialogue, character development, and conflict. All of that in less than an hour.

Flash fiction is my go to when I’ve just finished a big project and need to write without pressure. It’s what I write when I want to experiment with a new genre. It’s what I read when I’m sitting in the preschool drop-off line. It’s where beginning writers go when they need to practice, increase publishing credits, and build a platform. It’s where experienced writers get their book in front of a new audience and refine their craft.

Flash fiction isn’t easy. Have you ever written a synopsis? Did you have to cut that synopsis down by half because telling an entire 85,000 word book in three, double-spaced pages seems impossible? Try telling an entire story in 700 words.

You’ve got to be ruthless with extraneous words, picky with description, and clever with dialogue. Everything must do double duty. Can two characters be combined into one? Do we really need to know the hero has a smoldering gaze and killer biceps? Can you wrap up the story three paragraphs early and leave the reader with only the tantalization of what’s to come?

Here are six tips for writing great flash fiction:

Don’t rely on telling. It’s tempting because it’s so much faster, but the same rules for writing a good novel apply to good flash fiction.

Pick a moment or scene. You can’t tell an entire story, from the meet cute to the HEA, in one or two pages.

Stick to one POV and only a few characters. Less is more with flash fiction. Let us get to know one character well, instead of just barely understanding three.

Eliminate backstory. A line or two sprinkled throughout is enough to tell us what we need, and if it’s not, maybe the backstory is the real story.

Conflict is important. Make sure the character doesn’t get what he wants until the end. It’s just as easy to put down a boring flash fiction piece as a boring novel.

Remove anything nonessential—modifiers, descriptions, adverbs, redundancies, explanations, and boring bits. If it’s not pushing the plot forward, get rid of it.

Everyone wants things that are fast—cars, phones, food, entertainment, and fashion. Most people will not read War and Peace because of the length. Many ignore novels altogether. Flash fiction is a way to capture new readers and it’s a virtually untapped—yet growing—market. So, hurry up and write something short. Something powerful. Something sweet. Something marvelous.

Something written in an hour and read in five minutes can stay with you long after you’ve finished five loads of laundry and brought your child to the hospital for another cast.

You can get e-subscriptions of all three Splickety imprints for free by signing up for our newsletter at www.splickety.com.

Bio: Kimberly Duffy writes historical women’s fiction and romance when she’s not homeschooling her four children. She’s lead editor for Spark Magazine, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group, and a Genesis semifinalist. In her free time, she scours Goodwill for cute outfits to feature on Instagram and wishes she could drink coffee.

Social media:

http://kimberlyduffy.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKimberlyDuffy/

https://www.instagram.com/welldressedwriter/

https://twitter.com/kimduffyauthor

Shattered by Kailee Diaz

Shattered

We live where the weeds pop from the field grass at the start of each spring. Much to my southern husband’s chagrin, those aggressive little plants don’t stop their onslaught for the next three months of summer. He claims, he’s never seen anything like it, and I believe him because—well, in the southern heat of Georgia, not much grows past a certain point of the year.

Poor transplanted man of mine…

Ironically, that’s not the only thing growing in these parts, from the corn that’s about “yea high” (I’m motioning to my shoulders just in case you can’t see), to the kids who keep inching taller, our place is a well-spring of life. And with that, comes the busyness of lawn mowing season, the wild yelps of toddlers ready to enter the summer sun, and a little more chaos then the usual season.

Why just the other day, the littles knocked a lamp from its side table while playing in the house. They had been captive for quite some time and probably needed the sun to free their energy-filled bodies from the small indoor space. But whatever the reason, these poor littles knocked that lamp to the ground, and it shattered—in the blink of an eye.

Glass lay strewn across the floor, a wobbly, unfixable lamp resting by its side.

Sometimes life happens in an instant. Doesn’t it?

It’s those inexplicable moments, where we sit back and can hardly catch our breath. The glass is shattered at our feet, and we’re left with the pieces of a life that once was…

Maybe for you, it’s a life-altering diagnosis, a barren womb, an unattainable marriage, a lost child, and you’re sitting back grasping for any wholesome piece left behind.

You, my dear sweet friend, to you I say, you’re not alone.

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:3

How is it, in our deepest desperations we sometimes feel the most solitude?

Whatever the quiet aching of your heart, there is a man who is acquainted with your grief, both in a human way of understanding and in the capacity and sovereignty of an all-knowing God. This man, this Jesus, knows what you’re experiencing. Better yet, He’s not indifferent to it, my friend.

As a child, I grew up with a grandfather diagnosed with Parkinson’s. For those of you not aware, Parkinson’s is a crippling disease. It attacks the brain and nervous system, so that its victim can’t control their muscle movements.

My grandfather had to leave his pastorate far too soon. He loved ministry and people in a way that for all my love of words, I can’t express in written form. One of the first Parkinson’s patients to have electrodes placed inside his brain to help control the muscle spasms, he spent years plagued by a disease which had no cure.

And yet, even through suffering, He lived a life of joy. He couldn’t physically participate in our outdoor excursions, but he often pulled the board games from the shelf, challenging us to a chess match or taking the least opportune moment to prepare a bowl of ice cream, just because…

Looking back, I know these moments weren’t for show. His joy welled from inside of him. He spent many quiet hours in a back study, diving into God’s Word, praying, leaning.

I hope to never experience what he went through, but if God so chooses me, I pray my heart would set into Him like my grandfather’s. My God is a man of sorrows and grief. He is acquainted with my world, even in its shattering.

And that, my dear sweet friends, can carry a body through life.

Kailee’s a Christian historical-romance novelist and member of ACFW. She’s the daughter of a preacher, with generations of pastors filling her ancestry. A former middle school writing teacher, Kailee now writes full-time. She’s happily married to a wonderful husband, and together they’re expecting their first child in August. While she lives in America’s heartland, amongst cornfields and open skies, her passion for travel and love of history drive her stories.
Through fiction and in life, Kailee seeks to leave a legacy for future tales to be told. She hopes you’ll join her in the wonderment of God’s faithfulness to you and those who follow in your footsteps.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.kaileediaz.com or check her out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorkaileediaz/