Monday, October 8, 2012

Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Word Economy

Welcome to the first post on Short Stories and Flash Fiction. It's my hope that these post will help you to fine tune you writing. The difference between short story, from 2,000 up to 10,000 words and flash fiction is word count. So we will take a lot at my recent flash fiction story for Romantic Friday Writers. You can read it in its entirety below this post.

Here's the word count in sequence.

The first draft: Word Count: 552

The second edition, my favorite, came in at, 496 words.

The final edition, which I published on my blog post, came in at, 378 words.

I’m sure that if I’d had some editorial help, I might have been able to shave even more off. I did find out there were some spelling errors which I corrected. This proves that your best still needs that extra set of eyes.

Here are the examples.

1:

“Libra!” Amaia said.
Shika drew the wagon to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp. Men, women and children converged eagerly on the produce and meat she had brought with her. An older man with gray hair and a large gold earring in one lobe helped her down.

“Thank you, Dunixi,” Shika said, as her feet touched the ground.

"Libra," Amaia said.

“I’m sorry, Amaia. What do you mean?”

“You.”

Amaia often spoke in riddles. Shika waited, admiring the middle aged woman’s long silken black locks that curled tight against the bonds of the colorful woven scarf she wore. While the crowd dispatched the groceries Shika had brought for them, the two women went to the table that served Amaia in her future sight predictions.

2:

Shika drew the wagon to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp. Men, women and children converged on the produce and meat she had brought. An older man with gray hair and a gold earring in one lobe helped her down.

“Thank you,Dunixi,” Shika said.

“Libra,” a middle aged woman said.

"I’m sorry,Amaia. What do you mean?”

“You.”

Shika admired Amaia’s long black locks that curled tight against the colorful scarf she wore and followed her to a table.

3:

Shika drew the wagon filled with produce to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp and stepped carefully down.

"Libra.” A middle aged woman greeted her.

“I’m sorry, Amaia, what do you mean?” Shika admired Amaia’s long black locks that curled tight against the colorful scarf she wore and followed her to a table.

The first version is unnecessarily long. The second has details that I didn’t want to cut, such as the older man with a gold earring and the eagerness of the gypsy families to receive the food Shika had brought. But something had to go for the challenge of 400 words.

The final version is what I posted. This is flash fiction. I am turning this into a short story and putting back a lot that I had to cut. Short stories can run anywhere from 2,000 words up to around 10,000. Any longer and you have written a novella. Who knows, Shika’s story may turn into a novella, but at this time I’m planning a short story.

So let’s take a closer look at the first full paragraph:

Shika drew the wagon to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp. Men, women and children converged eagerly on the produce and meat she had brought with her. An older man with gray hair and a large gold earring in one lobe helped her down.

Shika drew the wagon filled with produce to a stop in the center of the Gypsy camp and stepped carefully down.

There is no difference in the first and second version. Word Count for this paragraph is; 46. The final version Word Count is; 21. That is a shaving off of 25 words. I left only what was absolutely necessary for the reader to understand that Shika was visiting a group of gypsies and had brought produce.

The last paragraph is similarly shaved, but I’ll let you review that one on your own.

Next week; tags.

I hope this was a help to you all. Please ask questions in the comments or give some tricks you use. I’ll try to answer any questions in future post.

Nancy

I need experienced critique partners. At this writing, I have three but I don't want to over load anyone with too many stories at once. I will offer my critique experience for your benefit too. Over 20 years, so I do know something.

12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Not very good at either flash fiction or short stories. As short as my novels are though, I might do all right with novelettes.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Alex
There was a time when I didn't think I could write short stories but I have since discovered how.

Thanks for stopping by.
Nancy

Empty Nest Insider said...

It's interesting how you were able to "shave down" your flash fiction piece. I didn't know the criteria for a short story versus a novella before. Thanks for your helpful insights on "word economy!" Great title! Julie

Anna said...

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Dear Nancy,
I'm glad to read about how you work reducing your work count and still retain meaning. Great post on what flash fiction and short stories are.
Best wishes & hugs,
Anna

Yolanda Renee said...

Nancy,

Nice piece on Flash Fiction. I love the challenge it provides, and being a wordy person, it definitely helps.

Li said...

I would add that flash fiction, although limited in word length, should still be a story with all of the necessary elements including a beginning, middle, and end (even if only hinted at). I've found that some pieces posted as "flash fiction" are really vignettes or excerpts of much larger pieces.

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Denise Covey said...

Hi Nancy. this is a great process and a great flash fiction. It could easily be grown to a novella. Love it. Whoops! Here comes that malware message. I thought it was okay. It's not!!!!!!

Denise Covey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N. R. Williams said...

Seems blogger is losing my comments or it might be malware. I hope to get that fixed soon.

You're right Li, it should include a beginning middle and end.

Nancy

Donna Hole said...

Mine usually start out pretty long so I can get all the "story" in there, then I have to shave and edit it down. I need more practice making the stories complete though. Lately, all my Flash as been beginnings for longer works, and I just don't have the time to develop them. Or maybe its the creativity. Starting is easy, finishing, not so much :)

.......dhole

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Donna
I just saw your comment now and it so happens that is my current post. Story Structure.
Nancy