Monday, July 14, 2014

Writers, how to make your writing sing

(What is housed in this tent? And why is it good news for my writing?
For the answer, stroll down to the very end of this post.)

'An ordinary day--but with a suitcase it in. -Arleen Pare (Leaving Now)

'There is a story always ahead of you.' -Michael Ondaatje (The Cat's Table)

'They would always go home; they belonged to the place they came from. Other people were destined to keep leaving, over and over again.' -Alix Ohlin (Inside)

'She swung the thick, strong rope of her voice round the words, coming down hard on them, cinching them together. Then she flung the notes bold up in the air, high and hornlike.' -Esi Edugyan (Half Blood Blues)

'It was a wisp of a dream, like trying to catch wind in your hand.' -Will Ferguson (419)

'It was like walking into joy.' -Louise Penny (The Beautiful Mystery)

How do you learn to write like this? How do you make your writing sing?

By learning to pick the right word.

And how do you do this?

By chiseling away at your writing so that plot; character development--nothing matters but the words. By writing flash fiction... 

Flash fiction:  a self-contained short story (meaning the story has a beginning, middle, end) with a limited word count (usually under 1,000 words).

As you can imagine, such a reduced word count is extremely limiting. You are limited to one character, one moment in time. Such writing, relies on the author's ability to choose the correct word. You don't have the luxury of padding. It's challenging but very enjoyable. And many authors find it to be the perfect counterbalance for working on longer work.

'The challenge of flash fiction is to tell a complete story in which every word is absolutely essential.' -Jason Gurley

For sale:  baby shoes, never worn.
This six word story by Ernest Hemingway's is an extreme example of flash fiction.
More about this story

Here are some of my attempts at extreme flash fiction...

One sunny day a worm went for a wiggle. He meet a robin.

No one cares, she thought and stepped onto the road. He swerved, stopped. Tomorrow they wed.

1,500...1,000...500...20...6? How low will you go?

More tips...

Stories in your pocket:  how to write flash fiction

Flash Fiction:  What's It All About?

Flash Fiction publishers...

Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction Award 
Prize:  $1,500 (US dollars)
Deadline:  July 31st


Puritan: Canadian on-line magazine
If 'received between June 26 to September 25 are considered for the fall issue, published in November.'

Descant:  is a [Canadian] quarterly literary journal that showcases poetry, prose, essay, memoir and art.

Guest post Friday:  Interview with Canadian author Sally Cooper (Love Object, Tell Everything and her short story collection Ripple)

Sharing my author journey...

What do you feed a writer?
Good books, of course.
Where do you get good books at a price a writer who is establishing their career can afford?
On Mayne Island, during July, go to first the Canada Day celebrations at Diner Bay park... Then you go to the Church Fair.
Talk about deals. I got...
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Cockroach by Rawi Hage
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Heart of a Stranger by Margaret Laurence
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
to name but a (very) few. And only spent twelve dollars.

I spent so little in fact, that I felt like I deserved a reward. So I strolled on over to Mayne Island's bookstore--Miners Bay Books --and bought local author Grant Buday's latest novel The Delusionist
Am I a happy writer?
You gotta got to believe I am.


Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - I love the quotes that you shared here :)

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you, Laurie. I think they're a good example of what can happen when you take the time to choose the right word.