Sunday, November 1, 2009

Flash Fiction Tips with Linda Courtland

(Today Linda Courtland, author of Somewhere to Turn: Stories will be sharing her expertise in flash fiction. Her collection is comprised of 37 terrific shorts.)

Write and Publish Your Flash Fiction: Ten Tips

by Linda Courtland

1. Kill the Adverbs – Get rid of as many modifiers as possible. Slash them with red ink and pack more action into your story. Verbs and nouns are your friends.

2. Keep it Simple – Use short sentences. Keep proper names to two syllables. Use “said” in dialog tags.

3. Use your Emotion – Stir up your senses with rock ballads, patchouli oil, dark chocolate, or whatever moves you. Then transfer that passion to the page.

4. Laugh a Little – Comic touches can set your story apart. Check out how I tackled environmental issues by hiring dolphins to work in office cubicles: Day Job of the Dolphin
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5. Name your Baby – Pick a title that will stand out in an online Table of Contents. Be clickable. Go for something unusual or provocative.

6. Make a List of Markets – Read the bios of writers you like, and check out the places where they’ve previously published stories. Do research at Subscribe to flash newsletters and blogs.

7. Study the Submission Guidelines – Follow the rules, exactly. If an online market asks for plain text, don’t copy and paste from Microsoft Word. I tried it, and my story about the Secret Wheat Police now has fractions where the hyphens used to be. Witness my shame at: Not So Simple
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8. Be on Your Best Behavior – Be polite and respectful. Say Please and Thank You. Never argue with an editor if she passes on your story.

9. Learn to Deal with Rejection – Always have a back-up plan. If a story is rejected, send it out again, the same day, to the next place on your list. If it’s rejected three times, consider rewriting, or try submitting to a different type of market.

10. Celebrate Like the Rock Star You Are! – When your piece is accepted, do something special. Tell people, lots of people. And revel in your success.

Here’s wishing you fun and satisfaction with all your flash submissions. Happy writing!

Linda Courtland
Author, Somewhere to Turn: stories

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