"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Defeating Deadlines: How Flash Fiction Improved My Writing Skills

Time is running out and all you can concentrate on is the ticking of the clock.  The more you focus on the mesmerizing sound the harder it becomes for you to concentrate, and the less you concentrate, the only letters that come to mind to type on the keyboard are, D. E. F. E. A. T.  
Sound familiar?  Every author during some point in their writing journey succumbs to the inevitable dreadful deadline.  Sometimes it may be out of our control and other times it may be self inflicted.  No matter the reason, missing a deadline is one of the hardest things to accept, other than rejection, as a writer.  The only difference between the two is at least with a rejection you’ve tried; you made every effort in your control to imagine, create and write a work of art.  With defeat of a deadline, you continually say to yourself, “If only I hadn’t done this or that.” 
When I first started writing I found myself in awe of writers who could write a short story in say, a week, and then edit, revise, edit and revise some more and complete it in two weeks, maybe a month.  At the time, I never saw myself as one of those writers.
Years crept by and holding to my beliefs of one taking responsibility for their own improvements I studied, practiced, studied, practiced some more and then I began to network with authors whom seemed to have mastered the art of writing stories in a flash.  I’m not talking about just putting verbiage down on a screen, but actual stories that tell a tale, stories that are tight as they can be and stories that have been revised and edited all in one week!    
How is that possible?  Let explore:
In June of 2011, I discovered a whole new writing genre called, Flash Fiction.  Having never heard of it before I was very intrigued by the mere name of it and inquired with a new connection of mine, author Blaze McRob, and he took me under his writer wings and introduced me to an exciting fast paced world of talented writers. 
There are many flash fiction writer groups out there, but they all have one thing in common; write a short story usually in a thousand words or less, based upon a weekly theme and then post it on your blog.  Then the group reads and comments on each others stories.  In addition, there are many readers out there that enjoy reading flash fiction and discovering new authors!  
So, how has writing flash fiction improved my writing skills?  For starters, it has challenged me as a writer to jump right in and start a story smack dab in the middle of the action, for you don’t have much time to build up to it.  It has also taught me how to strengthen my word usage.  In other words, are my words specific, clear and simple and are my nouns and verbs strong?  For when you only have a thousand words or less, less is more.  Lastly, the encouragement and recognition I have received from fellow authors and readers of flash fiction has pumped up my self-confidence as if it were on steroids.  
If you’re looking for ways in the new year to challenge yourself as a writer, why not discover the world of flash fiction?  You’ll be amazed at how much you will improve in tightening scenes, making words count, eliminating clutter from your writing and, best of all, keep your creative juices flowing!
I’ve listed two sites that specialize in Flash Fiction:
Vamplit Publishing is for writers of horror, and I am honored to say, I am a contributing author to their Friday Flash Fiction.  They are open to new contributors and they and all their authors are encouraging and supportive of one another.
Friday Flash.org host many genre’s of flash fiction and occasionally hold contests.  A great place to meet new connections and grow as a flash fiction writer.  

The Cat Vamp Diaries: All Things Scary is my friday flash blog where I feature my flash stories and more.  Hope to see you around the flash fiction scene!
Until next time,
Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!
T.K. Millin


  1. Ah, deadlines! Me and thee are quite good friends...

    1. Cindy, I guess being writers we can say we are never alone for we always have a friend! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment.

  2. I love to do flash fiction myself, T.K. It does sharpen one and I feel it almost always results in a huge "I didn't see this coming" at the end. The stories just roll and then "Wham!" Gotta love it. I usually do two to three a week, along with a short story or two, my online novel, and my other novels. Flash keeps me up to the task for everything else.

    Great post! As usual. :D

    Did you mention I gave you two awards? They're on my blog in two separate places.

    :D Blaze!

  3. Blaze, wow you are incredible! That is a lot of writing in a week, amazing and all your stories are fantastic. You are my hero :)

    Wow, two awards! I will check them out and spread the great news. Thank you!

  4. Excellent post, T.K.! You are so right that mastering flash fiction builds confidence, especially for us horror writers who have to learn to sock it to the reader in quick bursts.

    Did you post this on the Friday Flash facebook page? I think the other writers would really enjoy this post.

  5. Hi Wendy and thank you for stopping by to read and comment. Yes, flash fiction does help to build confidence and help you as a writer to come up with an unexpected end in a hurry! I did share it on Friday Flash Facebook page. Thanks!