Tuesday, October 08, 2013

 H. P. Lovecraft on Writing Weird Fiction

"Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction. A wonder story is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood." (H.P. Lovecraft)
The above quote can apply quite well to flash fiction too which often depends on atmosphere and human mood. It's always a good exercise to read the many stand-out writers of previous eras to learn effective techniques for putting forth our own flash fiction stories today. Lovecraft is an excellent writer to study.
Here's Lovecraft's interesting and useful essay, "Notes on Writing Weird Fiction"

And here are some Lovecraft stories to take a look at:  

The writers of yesterday have plenty to teach writers of today. 

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013


I enjoy the stuffin' out of good monologues of all types. I especially like those of flash fiction length and always enjoy those published at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. See the huge collection at

If you're a serious writer of flash fiction, do join the Flash Fiction Workshop (Online) where you'll find other serious writers of flash fiction. (The group's been going for over fifteen years now.) It's free and there are participation requirements to remain in the workshop (four critiques per month).

To join send a blank subject header message to mailto:listserv@listserv.uta.edu and in the message section write only this: subscribe flashfiction-w joejones@whatever.net Joe Jones (your email address and your real name). 

And don't forget to subscribe to the monthly Flash Fiction Flash newsletter. It's also free.  See subscribe info at

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


All the stories below are classic short-shorts. Flash fiction type writing is nothing new but it is something that's living quite strong now. But we can always learn more from those classics that came before.    

Guy de Maupassant "The Kiss" 1354 words

Guy de Maupassant "Indiscretion" 1429 words http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/Indiscretion.html 

Guy de Maupassant "A Dead Woman's Secret" (1411 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/dws.html

Guy de Maupassant "Coco" (1472 words)

Fielding Dawson "Vertical Fields" (762 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/vrtclfld.html
Gabriel Garcia Marquez "One Of These Days" (994 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/ootdays.html 

Liam O'Flaherty "The Sniper" (1619 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/sniper.html

H. H. Munro (Saki) "Mrs. Packletide's Tiger" (1377 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/mrspackl.html

H.H. Munro (Saki) "The Open Window" (1274 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/openwin.html

Mark Twain "A Telephonic Conversation" (810 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/Telephonic.html

William Carlos Williams "The Use of Force" (1564 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/force.html

Virginia Woolf "A Haunted House" (710 words) http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/haunths.html

Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Flash Fiction Flash.  It's free and arrives in your emailbox.  To subscribe, send a blank subject header message to FlashFictionFlash-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com and you'll begin receiving the newsletter.  And please be sure to refer your flash literature writer friends too.   






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Monday, June 10, 2013

Seven Fast Fiction Tips

(Archived by Writer's Digest on 12-26-2003)
From short-short stories to children's writing, here are some quick tips on fiction writing from the February 2001 issue of Writer's Digest:

"A short-short must remain simple, from conception through execution. Not simplistic, but simple. The key is to find a good port of entry by determining the point of the story in advance."
   -Geoff Fuller & Pamelyn Casto

"The second-draft outline is your plan for sorting through the mess. Without one, you're just grabbing anything that looks useful--here's a setting that almost works, there's a subplot that just needs a little polishing."
   -William Hutchinson

"One chance. That's all kids will give you before they toss your book aside. If the first sentence doesn't grab them, you're in trouble. If you haven't hooked readers by the end of the first page, you're about as good as last year's video game."
   -Marcia T. Jones & Debbie Dadey

"How your characters talk is just as important as what they actually say. In fact, good dialogue can be defined as the right speech content expressed in the right words. And good dialogue can do as much to create strong characterization as can description and exposition put together."
   -Nancy Kress

"Because I identified too closely with my characters to put them through these and other painful situations, I wrote a book that will never sell unless I completely rewrite it. Tiptoeing away from the emotional punch of a story makes it bland and superficial."
   -Joan Mazza

"Curiosity might kill a cat, but it's just the thing when it comes to getting a child to read. Kids are naturally curious about their world. Tap into that curiously by using dramatic statements that are sure to grab their attention."
   -Marcia T. Jones & Debbie Dadey

"While many short-shorts rely on a sudden shock at the end-the victim turns out to be the aggressor, the man turns out to be a woman-the most enduring manage not merely to surprise us, but also to transcend their few words. They compound meaning by linking the surface to layers that exist above, behind and beneath them."
   -Geoff Fuller & Pamelyn Casto

Monday, May 06, 2013

Minimalist Fiction (John Barth Quote)

It's interesting and informative to consider the various ways fiction can be viewed as minimalist that goes far beyond mere story length. 

 Snip from A Few Words About Minimalism by John Barth:

"Old or new, fiction can be minimalist in any or all of several ways. There are minimalisms of unit, form and scale: short words, short sentences and paragraphs, super-short stories, those three-eighth-inch thin novels aforementioned, and even minimal bibliographies (Borges' fiction adds up to a few modest, though powerfully influential, short-story collections). There are minimalisms of style: a stripped-down vocabulary; a stripped-down syntax that avoids periodic sentences, serial predications and complex subordinating constructions; a stripped-down rhetoric that may eschew figurative language altogether; a stripped-down, non-emotive tone. And there are minimalisms of material: minimal characters, minimal exposition ("all that David Copperfield kind of crap," says J.D. Salinger's catcher in the rye), minimal mises en scene, minimal action, minimal plot."


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Friday, April 05, 2013


I find that carefully analyzing outstanding flash fiction is a great way to learn more about the craft of writing.  In my online Flash Fiction Writing Workshop, every once in a while we do a group analysis of a particularly striking published story.  Here are links to three (of the many) that we've analyzed as a group.

Charles Baudelaire's intriguing "To Each His Own Chimera" at  http://www.piranesia.net/baudelaire/spleen/frame.html
(on the left side, click on story #6).

Last month we took a close look at Mary Robison's "Yours" and between us we discovered/ uncovered some outstanding writing techniques.  That story's at

(URL/Link must be unbroken so if you need to, cut and past it into your browser.)

This month we're taking a close look at Gordon Lish 's delightful and disturbing "The Merry Chase" at http://theeveningrednessinthewest.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/two-short-stories-from-gordon-lish/
(It's the second story on that page, so scroll down to get to it.)  I expect we'll have lots to talk about with this one. 

You're welcome to join us at the (free) Flash Fiction Writing Workshop.  It's been going strong for fifteen years.  We submit flash literature for critiquing, discuss writing theory, post markets, and occasionally do group story analyses and sometimes write to posted prompts.  We all use our real names and there's a participation requirement (a minimum of four critiques per month).  To join, send a blank subject header message to:


In the message section write only this:  Subscribe FlashFiction-W joejones@haha.net (your email address). 

If I get too many applicants I'll revive our waiting list (and will let you know).  Then when present members leave, I'll add in new members.  Right now we can accommodate at least twenty more members.  So if you're a serious flash literature writer, join us. 

(We also accept submissions of haibun, prose poetry-- but not regular poetry-- flash memoir, flash plays, short-short creative nonfiction-- all 1,000 words or fewer.)

And don't forget, I also publish a free Flash Fiction Flash newsletter each month.  In that I list paying flash literature markets (markets that pay an honorarium, contributor copy, and/ or subscription, etc. And I include the writing contests I find.  (Do send me markets you're aware of, too.)

To subscribe send a blank subject header message to FlashFictionFlash-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com (don't forget the hyphen-Subscribe)