Tuesday, July 29, 2008


For many years, editors have requested manuscripts that tell a complete story, but do it succinctly. The development of computer drives with many gigabytes of storage makes it possible for us to store large amounts of text efficiently and cheaply, but it has caused many of us to develop some bad writing habits. Our novels have become longer, more expensive to print, but not necessarily better. Recently, I joined a group writing Flash Fiction. I had a brief idea of what this involved. A story of this type is ideally only five hundred words in length. I knew that, but I did not know how hard it was to gather all of the elements of a story together into a coherent pattern. Then I ran across a short anecdote about Ernest Hemingway that was rather amusing. According to the story, he made a bar bet that he could write the shortest story on earth. His contribution consisted of only six words, and it is definitely a complete story.

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

I haven’t reached Hemingway’s proficiency yet, but I am working on it.

No comments: