Friday, January 28, 2011
Flash Fiction And The Necessary Ingredients For Great Story Telling!
I think we can try out ideas and see how they fly with a flash piece. And actually if you think about it, flash fiction 'cuts to the chase.' It permits no wandering, no day dreaming or padding or beating about the proverbial bush. It works or it doesn't.
Here's a test I thought of! Take a good, well-written dramatic scene from a novel and see if it would make good flash fiction. The novel that immediately comes to mind for me is Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett.
You have a crippled, embittered RAF pilot and his love-starved wife living on a remote Scotish island. It is self-imposed exile for the husband, but it's more. It's a grim abyss he has sunk into. To all intents and purposes it's his brand of hell that his wife and child inhabit with him.
Also included in the story is the very best, most efficient killing machine in the shape of 'Der Nadel' who must get back to Germany with information that will wreck the Allied Invasion of Europe. Just one problem: before this master spy can deliver the goods to Hitler, he gets shipwrecked. I just set the scene okay? Now for the flash piece!
If this was flash fiction it would begin here. The reader would see this nazi spy collapsed outside this remote home. They would know from some good concise writing who he is and what the circumstances are. Just good sparse writing would be enough for the reader (without any 'telling' whatsoever) to understand the entire situation. Just from dialogue and good descriptions the reader would know what is going on and would naturally understand what is at stake.
I think that's a pretty good example of flash fiction working very well to tell a gripping story in a brief but powerful way. I've bared it down deliberately to make my point. So yes, this kind of fiction works very well, in my opinion for the writer.