ISSN: 1946-1712

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July 11, 2012
Paranoia and Delusion
Jake Freivald
Paranoia and Delusion

May 26, 2011
Tea Party Rules — The Story Contract
Bruce Holland Rogers
Technically Speaking #5

In the previous column I said that fiction is a special variety of lie because it is collaborative. The reader participates in making the lie into a simulated truth and responds to the simulation with thoughts and feelings as if that simulation were real. Reading a story is not so very different from cooperative play such as sitting down to a pretend tea party with a child. The child is the author.... Read more: HTML 

April 18, 2011
Make It a Good Lie: Verisimilitude
Bruce Holland Rogers
Technically Speaking #4

One of the questions often asked of novelists and story writers is “How did you get your start?” The answer I most often give is, “I lied a lot as a child.” My answer sounds glib and usually gets a laugh, but I also mean it seriously. Fiction is a special case of lying. Moreover, fiction and lying both depend on what psychologists call “theory of mind.” Read more: HTML 

March 21, 2011
Naming the Baby: Titles (Part II)...
Bruce Holland Rogers
Technically Speaking #3

In part one of this article, Bruce explained some theory and then wrote: The title pulls the reader in. Then the story delivers on the title. This column takes the next step.

Enough theory. What a writer lacking a title can really use is some Things to Try. Here are a few.

1. Look at your bookshelf. What are the patterns of the titles you see there? Read more: HTML 

February 20, 2011
Naming the Baby: Titles (Part I)...
Bruce Holland Rogers
Technically Speaking #2

In this article, first of a two-part series, Bruce explores the way titles affect your stories.

Titles are hard. They have to accomplish a lot in a few words. The ideal title will attract the reader who has a variety of stories to choose from, will grab the reader by the collar and say, “Hey! You! Yes, you! Here is exactly the sort of story you love!” Read more: HTML 

December 20, 2010
The King Is Dead...
Bruce Holland Rogers
Technically Speaking #1

Long live the King!

Over two years have gone by since Bruce started writing his Short-Short Sighted column. Although he’ll continue to talk about short-short stories, he’s going to branch out into writing techniques that are more broadly applicable. This is his inaugural column for Technically Speaking. Read more: HTML 

November 17, 2010
Again Again Again: Repetition
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #26

One of the first things I learned about English prose style, far back in the ancient days of grade school, was that I should vary my vocabulary. Repetition of the same word (other than prepositions, conjunctions and articles that have to be repeated often) displayed a lack of art. If I were writing a paragraph about a rose, then I should next refer to it as “flower” and then perhaps refer to its “petals,” rather than writing “rose” in three different sentences. Read more: HTML 

October 12, 2010
Notes on Writing Weird Fiction
H. P. Lovecraft
For Writers

This is an essay H.P. Lovecraft wrote in 1933, which was published in the June 1937 issue of The Amateur Correspondent.

My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature. I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best — one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which for ever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis. Read more: HTML 

September 7, 2010
Big Success on a Small Scale
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #25

This month, I want to take a break from examining the forms of flash fiction and consider another aspect of flash entirely: the career aspect. What would it mean to have a successful career in flash fiction?

As readers of my essays in Word Work will know, I’m wary of any definition of success that makes money the sole measure.... Read more: HTML 

August 7, 2010
By The Numbers: The Prose Sonnet
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #24

Any time I begin a discussion of fixed forms, the first such form that I mention is the sonnet. Even if many readers can’t name the rules of a sonnet, they at least know that a sonnet is a short poem written to a set of arbitrary rules, and it’s easy to proceed from that example to a discussion of how a writer might compose by first choosing the rules and then, line by line, finding content to fit them. Read more: HTML 

July 6, 2010
Before Your Next Critique Group...
Mark Twain
For Writers

Have you writers ever been critiqued in such a scathing, vicious fashion that you don’t know whether you want to crawl into a hole or beat the critquer with a bat?

Can you imagine getting that kind of critique from Mark Twain?

That’s what happened to James Fenimore Cooper and his novel The Deerslayer. Just wow. And yet there are good lessons in there, too. Read more: HTML 

May 4, 2010
Let Me Repeat That: A Prose Villanelle
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #23

One of the best-known poems in the English language is “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, a poem that Thomas wrote for his dying father. One of the first things that a reader might notice about that poem is that there are two lines in the poem that repeat exactly. Do not go gentle into that good night is the first line, the sixth line,... Read more: HTML 

May 4, 2010
Metamorphoses and Compassion
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted

...And that, dear readers, is a metamorphosis tale, a story well suited to flash fiction.... Before the metamorphosis is the story of what led up to the transformation, and often the story lasts long enough after the transformation to consider its significance....

There is one risk to writing a metamorphosis story, and it refers to the phrase teaches them a lesson. Read more: HTML 

April 1, 2010
Small Rebellions: Prose Poems
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #21

These columns are about writing flash fiction, but this month I want to peer over the border to examine flash fiction’s sister genre, the prose poem. At least some flash fictions and prose poems are similar enough that it can be difficult to see just which side of the border they belong on. Russell Edson calls what he writes “poems,” but all of his work is formatted as prose and is narrative. Readers can be forgiven for thinking that it’s flash fiction. Some of my own work that I considered to be fiction when I wrote it has ended up being published as poetry. Whenever I teach a class in the “short forms” of flash fiction, prose poem, and brief literary nonfiction, one of the first things I do is show the students a variety of short prose pieces and ask them to tell me whether those works are fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. Students seldom agree completely on the genre of any of the sample writings.... Read more: HTML 

March 2, 2010
Consolidated Flash and the Collective Narrator
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #20

In this column, Bruce Holland Rogers comes back to fixed forms, discusses story collections, and introduces the collective narrator. Read more: HTML 

February 2, 2010
A Story of n Words: How Low Can You Go?
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #19

In this column, Bruce Holland Rogers discusses the shortest of very short stories, and tackles, along the way, the topic, “Just what is a story, anyway?” Read more: HTML 

January 5, 2010
Ellipsis: What To Leave Out
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #18

The title says it all. Read more: HTML 

December 1, 2009
Write Rites: The Ritual Story
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #17

On using ritual in stories. Read more: HTML 

November 3, 2009
George Washington’s Life in Baseball:
Using Characters Your Reader Already Knows
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #16

Bruce Holland Rogers discusses the use of characters your audience already knows. Read more: HTML 

October 1, 2009
The Philosophy of Composition
Edgar Allan Poe
For Writers, 10/2009

This essay details the writing of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven”. Although flash fiction isn’t poetry, it strives for the same “unity of effect” that Poe tries to obtain in his work.

Some have said that this is satire, too precise and methodical to be serious; however, I think our own work might benefit from studying its themes. Read more: HTML 

September 1, 2009
Review: The Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
Jake Freivald
Review: Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

Editor Jake Freivald reviews The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, a collection of 25 essays dedicated to... well, you know. Read more: HTML 

September 1, 2009
Collaborating with MICE:
Using Theory as a Creative Partner
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #15

Bruce Holland Rogers continues his series on writing the short-short story.

In the last four columns we have looked at Orson Scott Card’s MICE quotient and examined how it is possible to write flash fiction that depends on its success on Milieu, Idea, Character, or Event. As I wrote these columns, I was reminded of the nervous anxiety that I used to feel when I would read about theories and techniques of writing. On one hand, I would feel excited about the clarity that can arrive with a good theory: Aha! That’s why certain novels begin with the arrival of strangers and end when the strangers leave! They are novels of milieu! Read more: HTML 

August 4, 2009
Flash Fiction of Event:
Tackling a Problem
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #14

Bruce’s final column in the discussion of MICE (Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event) focuses on Event stories. Read more: HTML 

July 2, 2009
Flash Fiction of Character
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #13

Bruce continues his discussion of the MICE quotient by talking about Flash Fiction of Character. Read more: HTML 

June 2, 2009
Flash Fiction of Idea
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #12

Bruce’s column continues his discussion of the MICE (Milieu, Idea, Character, Event) quotient with a discussion about Flash Fiction of Idea. Read more: HTML 

May 5, 2009
Short-Short-Sighted Index
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted

With Bruce on hiatus this month, we thought it would be a good idea to create a list of all eleven of his columns so far. He’s already covered a lot of turf: from fixed forms, traditional tales, and word-count restrictions to the deliberate shattering of form and evasion of tradition. Each has at least one story to illustrate his point, too — all of which are well worth reading. Read more: HTML 

April 2, 2009
Flash Fiction of Milieu: What It’s Like Here
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #11

This is the first of four articles covering the MICE Quotient: Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event. Bruce discusses these elements (with a tip of the hat to Orson Scott Card) and goes into greater depth on milieu. His exemplar for the month is called, Unpleasant Features of Our New Address.” Read more: HTML 

March 1, 2009
Less Than The Rules Demand: Getting By On Attitude
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #10

In this issue, Bruce Holland Rogers breaks all the rules — and shows how you can, too. His intriguing story “Baby, It Didn’t Have to Happen That Way”, illustrates his point. Read more: HTML 

February 1, 2009
Zoom! Writing A Lifetime In A Page Or Two
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #9

In this issue, Bruce Holland Rogers makes time fly by focusing on a lot of time in a small space. He uses a poignant 300-word story, “Dinosaur”, as an illustration. Read more: HTML 

January 1, 2009
Get Unreal
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #8

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but they’re not talking about this sort of fiction. Bruce Holland Rogers covers some of the stranger styles of fiction — expressionism, surrealism, magical realism and fantasy — and shows how they can be useful in short-short stories. He offers his story “Estranged” as an example of expressionism. Read more: HTML 

December 1, 2008
Counting and Multiplying: The Birth and Evolution of the Three-Six-Nine
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #7

The latest installment of Bruce Holland Rogers’s “Short-Short Sighted” column discusses the “369” — a form so rigid that one might wonder whether it can be effective. After reading this column, you’ll stop wondering. Read more: HTML 

November 1, 2008
Once Upon A Time: Fairy Tales
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #6

The latest installment of Bruce Holland Rogers’s “Short-Short Sighted” column discusses fairy tales. His short-short story example, “The Dead Boy At Your Window,” is a haunting example — and winner of the Bram Stoker and the Pushcart Prize. Don’t miss it. Read more: HTML 

October 1, 2008
Take a Letter...
or a Fire Extinguisher
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #5

The latest installment of Bruce Holland Rogers’s “Short-Short Sighted” column discusses fixed forms found “in the wild,” in letters and travel guides and even fire extinguishers. His short-short story What to Expect is about pregnancy — and a little bit more. Read more: HTML 

September 1, 2008
One Loopy Sentence At A Time
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #4

The latest installment of Bruce Holland Rogers’s “Short-Short Sighted” column discusses fixed forms — using rigidity to inspire creativity. His 400-word story The House of Women serves as an example. Read more: HTML 

August 1, 2008
Momentum, Disruption, and Proof of Deflection
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #3

In the latest installment of his “Short-Short Sighted” column, Bruce Holland Rogers discusses a three-point structure for creating short-short stories: Momentum, Disruption, and Proof of Deflection. And he provides an extremely short story (238 words) called “Daddy” to show you how a master does it. Read more: HTML 

August 1, 2008
Writing Speculative Fiction for the Flash Fiction Market
Suzanne Vincent
Writing Speculative Flash Fiction

Suzanne Vincent gets practical on writing extremely short speculative fiction. Read more: HTML 

July 1, 2008
The Fabulist’s Tale
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #2

Bruce Holland Rogers’s “Short-Short Sighted” column this month is called The Fabulist’s Tale. In it, he discusses fables and gives us a story of his own as an example. Read more: HTML 

June 1, 2008
The Hand of the Dead
Dave Hoing
For Readers

Dave Hoing, author of “Souls of the Harvest” from our February issue, sent me The Hand of the Dead with an odd explanation: “Although it’s short enough to qualify as flash, I’m not sure if it’s fictional enough to qualify as fiction.” Call it a speculative essay, if you like — it stems from his love of old books, and the legacy captured in the handwriting inside a 1792 bible. — Ed. Read more: HTML 

June 1, 2008
You’ll Know It When You See It
Bruce Holland Rogers
Short-Short Sighted #1

Flash Fiction Online is extremely proud to welcome Bruce Holland Rogers, award-winning author and educator, as he begins his new column, entitled “Short-Short Sighted: Writing the Short-Short Story.” His first column frames the question that will lead us through the rest of his columns: What exactly is this short-short story thing that we keep talking about? Read more: HTML 

March 1, 2008
Interview with Eric
Eric Garcia
For Readers

Eric Garcia is a novelist and screenwriter who writes insane things. Interestingly, he seems to be able to make a living selling them. Nobody’s quite sure how this works. Read more: HTML 

February 1, 2008
An Interview with Bruce Holland Rogers
Bruce Holland Rogers
For Readers

Bruce Holland Rogers is an award-winning fiction writer and teacher, best known for his short — sometimes extremely short — fiction. Among many other places, his stories were included in both the original 1992 Flash Fiction anthology that coined the term and its 2006 follow-up, Flash Fiction Forward. The Keyhole Opera, a collection of his short stories, won the 2006 World Fantasy Award for best collection. He also wrote Word Work: Surviving and Thriving As a Writer, and is on the faculty of the Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA program. His “Reconstruction Work” appeared in Flash Fiction Online’s inaugural issue.

Though he bases himself in Eugene, Oregon, we caught up with him in London, where he’s living until July, 2008. Read more: HTML 

January 3, 2008
Allegory vs. Symbolism — What’s It All Mean?
Mark Freivald
For Readers

In this article, Mark Freivald uses Bolesław Prus’s "Mold of the Earth" and other stories to discuss the difference between allegory and symbolism. Read more: HTML 

January 1, 2008
Liberty Hall Writers: An Interview with Mike Munsil
For Writers

Two of the writers selected for inclusion in the January issue of Flash Fiction Online, Beth Wodzinski and Rod M. Santos, hone their writing skills at Liberty Hall, a writers’ forum — and I’m not making this up — where you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard.

Whatever the nature of their interactions with floor coverings and felines, they seem to crank out a lot of good stories. We spoke with Liberty Hall’s founder and proprietor, Mike Munsil, to find out more. Read more: HTML 

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