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Flash Tips from Write On Tutors

Many of our Write On tutors write Flash Fiction and have been highly successful with awards and publications both in Āotearoa and internationally.

This week we asked four of our tutors for tips for young writers who are editing, starting, or thinking about starting entries for the 2021 National Flash Fiction Day competition. Details here!

Last year's National Flash Fiction Day Winner, and our Year 12/13 class guest tutor for Term 2 , Jenna Heller, says:

1. Look at every word to make sure each word is pulling its weight. For example, 'walk' might be the right word but 'amble' or 'saunter' or 'lope' might tell the reader more about your character than 'walk' ever could. Make each word help create the mood and emotional tone. Word choice is critical to creating layers of meaning within a very short piece of fiction.

2. Make your first sentence so strong that when people read it they have to keep reading. Your first sentence must be rich and enticing. It has to pull the reader in immediately. The first sentence sets the tone for everything else that happens in your story.

In 2018, Sue Kingham won the North and South Flash Fiction Prize. Sue teaches our Year 8/9 class and runs workshops in schools. Sue's tips are:

1. Keep a notebook of ideas as they occur to you; file interesting new stories, intriguing titles or inspiring photographs.

2. Put two different ideas together to add depth to a piece. I did this with a wedding anniversary and a couple of injured swans.

3. Aim for fresh imagery. If you've heard the simile or metaphor before, try to think of a new way to convey the same idea.

Our director, Heather McQuillan won both the National Flash Fiction Day and Micro Madness Prizes in 2016. She has published a collection of flash fiction. Heather says:

1. Experiment: the rules of the form are not set and the risks, like the stories, are smallish.

2. Obsess: Make incremental changes- this way or that way?

3. Read: find some great flash fiction to read. For starters, read here

and here

Gail Ingram is our Year 11/12 class tutor, leads workshops in school and is an editor at Flash Frontier. Gail has numerous awards for poetry and flash fiction.

1. Start just after the beginning of the story with an image, a sound, some speech or action.

2. End just before the ending with an image, a sound, some speech or action. No summaries or explanations!

3. Borrow experiences, characters and conversations from your life to make the story sound authentic, but fictionalise the details and expand on the emotion and size of the event.

4. Edit your story, hard. Delete accidentally repeated words and ideas, and tighten your sentences.

A huge thank you to our marvellous tutors who shared their wise words.

All the best with your flash fiction writing.

The deadline is April 30th.

(c) Write On School for Young Writers 2021


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