I Struggle With Writing Short Fiction

I have a vacation coming up in a week and a half. I’ll have access to the internet and my laptop with me (I plan to work on some editing projects since I can’t just NOT do anything), but I still plan to double my usual blog buffer so I can just ignore my blog every day that I’m away. My current intention is to do five Flash Fiction posts in the place of my usual content, as a nice compromise between writing five normal posts and letting my blog sit empty for a full week, but I’m running into the same problem that I always do when I’m trying to produce new flash fiction. I just don’t know what stories to tell in so short a format!

I’m a long-form storyteller at heart. Or, at least, that’s where all of my experience is. Mostly novel-length projects, Tabletop RPG campaigns, and the occasional short story that is rarely as short as it probably should have been. The thing about most of my actual short stories is that they’re the result of prompts form college writing classes that I’ve revisited many years later or random lightning-bolt-style ideas that just sort of hatched in my head, fully formed. I actually have a rough time coming up with new story ideas that I can develop into a full story in three hundred words or less. It is pretty demoralizing to have a couple dozen story ideas for novels, RPG campaigns, and even TV shows but wind up drawing an utter blank whenever I think “same idea, but shorter!”

The good thing is that this is something I can change, which is one of the reasons I’m trying to get back into flash fiction. I need practice developing shorter ideas and 300 words is a decent limit for that. Feels like a good length for a short entry on a blog post, isn’t so short that I have to spend hours agonizing over word choice, and I can usually trim from the 400-500 word length of my drafts to 300 words or fewer without too much of an issue. It’s also really good practice for figuring out what details or words aren’t actually required for a story or sentence to make sense. I tend to paint pretty broadly in my rough drafts, fleshing out the entire scene as I see it in my head, and then trim away the unimportant bits during subsequent edits. Something I’m much better at as a result of my experience with creating flash fiction back in 2018.

It could be fun to try again. I’m a much better writer than I was back then, I think. It’s difficult to say, honestly. I’m bad at judging myself accurately. I definitely think I’m more aware of my writing in a way that makes the stuff I produce better over-all, but I think that is mostly the result of being less precious with what I’ve already written. After all, I did 100,000 words in a month without taking vacation days from my day-job. If I can do that, who cares if I need to throw out an entire chapter of a book. I can just write more. That’s my number one talent as a writer, after all. Producing more. Which, you know, is why I need to practice my editing and short-form stuff. More words isn’t always better, even if I’m incredibly tempted to say that the inverse is true since words are easy for me to produce and much less easy for me to produce well.

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