Care for some tips about writing flash fiction? Check out my craft article that was just featured at Nunum:
Photo by: Sagar Patil, www.unsplash.com
Curious about the impact of writing notebooks in the life of authors? Want some tips on how to keep a submission notebook?
Recently, my poetry-and-photography combo art was published at Daily Haiga: an edited journal of contemporary & traditional haiga.
"What's haiga?" you wonder.
Glad you ask! See below.
I have another haiga in a forthcoming issue. Stay tuned!
"Haiga (俳画, haikai drawing) is a style of Japanese painting that incorporates the aesthetics of haikai. Haiga are typically painted by haiku poets (haijin), and often accompanied by a haiku poem. Like the poetic form it accompanied, haiga was based on simple, yet often profound, observations of the everyday world. Stephen Addiss points out that 'since they are both created with the same brush and ink, adding an image to a haiku poem was ... a natural activity.'" Source/Learn More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiga
My fiction craft article appeared at Women on Writing today. Ta-da! Hope it inspires, and enjoy the prompt at the end.
"Three Qualities of Good Short Stories (and Why You Need Them in Your Own Stories)"
By Melanie Faith
"The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story."
--John le Carré
We've probably all had that experience where we read the latest edition of our favorite literary magazine and thought, Meh. What was so great about that piece? Editorial tastes aside, there are some key elements to making good fiction that transcend the names on the masthead. Let's take a look at a few elements that make a good short story.
There's enough conflict. Readers get invested in stories that have something at stake, both for the protagonist and for the reader. As in the John le Carré quote, merely having a character in a scene doing something isn't enough to generate and sustain interest. Just as our actions or refusals to act create ripples of effects in real life (Wonder about that? Don't pay your taxes, show up at your child's recital, or buy groceries: the reactions are sure to pile up speedily), your characters live in a setting populated with other people, places, and things and whatever they do or don't do has consequences aplenty. Consequences create the potential for conflict and increase tension in a story. Conflicts and consequences are good. Characters who do something (anything) in a vacuum: boring city!
We know who to root for and who not to. Ever read a story where there were so many characters that you weren't sure who you should focus on or what was the point of all of these characters being in the scene? Good stories might have a few characters, but it's clear who the protagonist is and isn't. Same goes for the antagonist, which may be a person but doesn't have to be (in man vs. nature stories, for instance, a storm might be the antagonist). Every action/reaction, snippet of dialogue, and description must support the reader knowing who the main character is and who works against the main character. All other details (or characters) can either be edited out of the story or need to be pared back to supporting status for the protagonist's journey.
They have a clear setting--which just may prove significant to the character's quest. Just like us, your characters exist in time and space. A character typing in a coffee shop in Smalltown, USA probably has a different life and set of goals than a character in a coffee shop in LA, Tokyo, Milan, or the moon (hey, this could be science fiction, right?). Remember that storm example a few sentences ago? Some settings, such as a character outrunning a tornado in Missouri, might be significantly impact by where the action of the story happens. Other times, the action of the story might have little to do with the conflict but it's important to create a scene in which your character breathes and moves through a landscape just as we all do. Keep in mind: characters don't have to like where they live (be that their city/town or their living conditions, such as apartment/condo/house/basement/friend's couch), but good stories need a place for all of the action of the story to take place. Otherwise, characters can become mere talking heads, doing a lot of thinking that could easily alienate readers who want to be grounded in place and time.
Try this prompt!
Take a draft of a story and let's flip the script: write a new story, making your antagonist your protagonist. What is the main conflict your new protagonist must confront? Who creates obstacles for this new protagonist? What do they want? Where does your protagonist spend most of their time? Make that the setting. How does the setting either support your new protagonist or work against them?
Care to write more short stories?
Check out my May short-story class .
I'm very pleased to announce that three of my photos appeared at Nunum's blog and Instagram this week, along with this insightful description of my photos:
"Melanie Faith's photography captures the complex beauty displayed through the transitory play of light through the spaces in which we most often find ourselves alone with ourselves."
They also kindly made a mention of my book, In a Flash, and its release!
Check out more of Nunum's awesome flash fiction and art and consider submitting!
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being asked by my awesome WOW! editors (special shout-out to Ang) to participate in a directory for fiction writers by writing some fun prompts.
If you're hankering for some thematic prompts, take these for a test drive in a draft today. Feel free to share them with your writing groups, friends, and/or students as well. Enjoy! I'd love to hear updates if any of the prompts inspire new stories or new scenes in your current WIP. :)
For the full directory of more than 100 prompts: Reedsy .
I'm pleased to have a photograph, "Profusion in Pink Glo," featured at The Sunshine Review, which released today.
A few fun words about my creative process:
After cutting stems, I submerged several red garden roses in a see-through Pyrex bowl of water. Then, I froze them for three weeks in a deep-freeze. On a sunny day, I resurrected them from the freezer and took them outside onto a rock ledge to snap at various angles. My favorite views were halfway through the bowl's curving lip, showing under the water as well as above it as the ice floes melted (as in this shot). I used a retro filter via the Nik Collection with Photoshop to attain the dusky hues.
Enjoy my photo, paired with a cool short story by writer Kathleen Rollins.
My craft article was published at Women on Writing today.
"Image Power: Click-Click to Enhance Your Writing"
By Melanie Faith
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." ~ Dorothea Lange
What one art form has most enhanced my writing?
Photography. Hands down.
What makes photography such a great sibling to our poems and prose? What can we learn through photography that will inform our writing for the better?
- Both are imagery-based arts. Many of the same instincts and thought processes I use when writing also come into play when I make photographs. Paying attention to specific details is a key part of making written and visual art.
- Both photography and writing involve knowing not only what to include but what to exclude for the strength of the piece.
- Photography often follows similar themes as our writing. Perhaps you are drawn to family dynamics in your writing? Photos of children, babies, parents, grandparents, and more may shed light on a new aspect for you to consider in your writing. Or perhaps you enjoy writing about nature--from flowers to animals. Studying and taking photos outdoors can underscore elements to explore with detail in your writing.
- Both arts explore symbolism. Metaphors are often involved as well. Are there certain shapes or colors that recur in your photos? They likely recur in your writing as well. Are you interested in tumbling sheds or impressive arches and flying buttress beams in architecture? Then I bet you've written about structures--from apartments, trailers, and houses to dormitories and other buildings you've experienced--and what they symbolize personally and culturally from time to time, too.
- Both arts are great fun. Let's not overlook the joy of creating both media. There's never been an easier time to write, with computer software and online workshops, or to take photographs. Most cell phones have amazing cameras in them and digital photography has brought photo sharing to a wide audience. Not only are there amazing tools to unleash your creativity and to explore your questions about life, spirit, and love, but also the process of creating can be relaxing, fulfilling, exciting, and meaningful. You don't need to spend a ton of money on the latest lenses or equipment to make gorgeous, meaningful pictures or to write publishable verse and prose. Basic tools and a little time can yield amazing results.
- Both arts encourage variety and a slowing-down to focus. Exploring new ways to develop my still-life photos has also encouraged me to try new formats in my poems, essays, and fiction. At the same time, photography has taught me much about slowing down and being in the moment, something that's equally important in photography and writing...and daily life.
Try this Prompt!
List two subjects you photograph and/or write about repeatedly. Describe this object, person, or place in 150 words. Then list two reasons why you repeatedly revisit this subject. What about this subject might you see from a new angle or describe with new words? What do you think these subjects symbolize in your current life or the life you'd like to lead in the future? What qualities do they represent about you as an individual artist? Break out your camera and take a photo of this subject in a way or from an angle you've never thought about before now.
Interested in a class that combines photography and writing? Click the link below.
Instructor: Melanie Faith
Workshop Length: 4 Weeks
Class Dates: Friday, March 9, 2018 - Friday, April 6, 2018
Cost: $155, which includes e-mail critique and positive feedback on student writing, and access to a private group for student interactions.
Limit: 10 Students
Description: "Fiction, like dreams, exists in images... Fiction must exist in images, not abstractions," wrote John Dufresne. Indeed, the ability to develop imagery is important in all forms of writing, from poetry to essays and all sorts of descriptive writing. The art of photography, an evocative visual art, frequently helps authors hone our image-seeking and development skills. There won't be technical jargon of F-stops or aperture priority in this course and you are free to use any form of camera you already own and love--from camera phone to digital, DSLR to Lomo, instamatic, you name it; this class is about cracking open the everyday extraordinary, about the kind of seeing and focusing on detail that will enhance your writing and spark ideas for months to come.
In this four-week workshop, we'll take a daily photo-taking prompt for a spin, post our response, and describe what inspired each photo at our class group. During the second week, you will begin a piece based on one of the photos you've taken that you will share (in part as an excerpt or in full, up to you) with the class during our fourth week. Handouts on topics covered will include: Truthiness: Adding Layers to Your Art with Art; The Genesis and Development of Imagery: Example Sheet of Published Work; Submitting Your Work to Literary Magazines & Other Venues Looking for Photos: Cover Letter Tips; Photographic Resources to Check Out!; Tips for Writing about [Our] Art; How to Match Your Photographic Style to your Writing Style; Ekphrasis and You: Writing in Tandem with the Visual Arts; and Tips for Writing Fabulous Writer/Artist Bios.
There will be a private group for students to discuss our creative process and share daily responses to each prompt and for sharing of literary resources, such as markets and quotations about the image-making process.