Aside from writing longer stories, I like to write Flash Fiction. Mine weighs in at 650 words as a rule, which I know is long by some standards, but still under the 1000 word mark, so I am claiming it. I love the puzzle of it, the discipline, the identification and merciless gutting of superfluous sentences to achieve the prized word count.
And what started as an exercise for revising drafts, has now become a self-improvement programme for dropping the preciousness. Being űber-precious about the words is not helpful. I know we have lovingly handcrafted the words, laboured over them and given birth to them, but sometimes they are just the cuckoo in the nest. Much as it hurts, they’ve gotta go.
Admittedly, I am weak and can't kill them off completely, so I stash those words, -or in some hideous cases scenes and plotlines- in an Outtakes folder. No, let’s not call it cyber-hoarding, let’s just say it is pre-recycling, and recycling is Green, which makes it Good.
Being comfortable with my 650 words, I was intrigued to come across Helena Mallett’s ebook 75x75 = Flash Fraction, where she writes a wide range of stories in just 75 words. Well that impressed me. Co-incidence was obviously on a roll, as then I found Helen MacKinven’s paragraph fiction on ParagraphPlanet, again with a 75 word limit. There's loads of people at it, these 75 words!
But trumping it all was a post on Carol Lovekin’s site about stories told in just 6 words. 6! Which blew my mind. She uses an Ernest Hemingway example and it immediately sets your head spinning to have a go. The only one I have come up with is rude, and blatant plagiarism on a 6 word story in itself, "Veni, Vidi, Vici" - or does that count as three words, in which case my head will officially explode...