Write Flash Fiction and Flash Nonfiction that Sells! :)

Learn how to write and edit flash that catches editors’ eyes! Super cool video at: Check out In A Flash.

Signed copies available at: Write Path Productions.

E-copies and print copies available at: Amazon, In a Flash .

In a Flash Updated Cover 7-08-19.jpg

"Four Tips for Writing Fantastic Flash"

My article about flash-writing was published today. Ta-da! Give the writing exercise a spin.

“Four Tips for Writing Fantastic Flash”

by: Melanie Faith

Good things come in small packages. Chocolate truffles. Earrings. Me—okay, that last one is wishful thinking since I round my height up to 5’2”, but you get the picture.

            Flash is the mighty genre that could and no exception to the small-packages rule of thumb. In both fiction and nonfiction, flash stories tell a narrative, develop a character and setting, craft conflict and tension to a surprising ending, and more—all in just 1,000 words or less. Pretty impressive!

            Use these four tips and the accompanying exercise to craft some stellar flash.

 

·         Set two characters against each other.  Ever lived in a dorm? Then you know that very rarely do even two people (much less a whole group) view similar experiences the same way. Such conflict is a key component of good flash. Whether your characters compete for the same person, place, or thing or just have opposing personal, political, or ideological views, one sure way to maintain conflict within a flash is to pair two characters in a clash of goals. When I judge flash contests, one of the key disappointments is when a good flash character or concept doesn’t have enough tension to sustain the flash, so the prose falls flat.

·         Ready, set, action!  Your protagonist or speaker must DO something. Flashes aren’t as dynamic if the character is inert or has things done to her or him. Detail your protagonist’s physical actions and responses. Many promising flash drafts I’ve read go off the rails when they include a character reflecting on something that has occurred—which is fine for a sentence or two, maybe, but for a flash to really zing off of the page, the character must push back in deed. In real life, I need a fair amount of reflection time, but in my flash writing, I avoid it. Wind those characters up and let them move on the page! Which brings us to our next tip:

·         When in doubt, include (a little) body language. Sometimes, jokingly, I’ve referred to dialogue without any speaker tags or visual imagery for several paragraphs as “floating heads,” because the characters seem to exist in outer space, without a clear physical presence. Readers don’t need to know every single cough, sneeze, or hand on the hip, but if your readers can’t imagine how characters are reacting to each other—whether through vocal tone, rolled eyes, tapping toes or shifting uncomfortably- then they probably won’t have as deep an investment in characters’ struggles. Much of what real people communicate in everyday life is demonstrated through body language; sprinkle a few well-placed images between the dialogue to show the conflict between what the character says and how the character or others physically react.

·         Contradictions make better flash characters. In other words: we’re all a mess, so why not mine it? Another problem in some flash I see are characters who are one-sided, with a single personality trait that is not-so-awesome for flash: they are too agreeable. Something bad happens, and they accept it as the way things are or they make a decision to ignore it entirely. Strong writing brings us characters who have a main trait—kindness, enthusiasm, anger—and an opposing trait that rears its head now and again—selfishness, mercurial moods, humor at the wrong moment. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Guess what—we all have these two opposing sides and must function, which creates the kind of exhaustion and frustration that doesn’t always make life easy but which makes for fantastic conflict, tension, and character development in flash.

 

Try this exercise:  Your speaker or protagonist has always reacted to injustice by ________________, but today, a different side of their personality is going to shine. Instead, they will _________________. Include inner thoughts of the character or speaker right before they decided what to do, during, and after. Include at least a line of dialogue in your flash where a person with a different opinion or view tries to stop your speaker or protagonist. What happens next? Go!

~~~~~~~~

Looking for a fun online writing class? Still a few spots in my Flash writing class that starts on Oct. 25th. :) In a Flash Details.

I’ll also be teaching a novel class in January. Outlining Your Novel with Ease Details.

Class-InaFlash-Nov2-Melanie-Faith.jpg

"Food Writing: Introducing the Quotable Yum Factor" Article Published :)

So pleased that my article was published as a Spotlight article at Women on Writing this week. I’ll also be teaching a themed online writing class in September (scroll to the end of the post for the link to the course and more details).

“Food Writing: Introducing the Quotable Yum Factor”

By Melanie Faith

I’ve been a quote collector from way back. I can’t help but relish words of wisdom on the topic of food that demonstrate not only eating but also sharing our love for nourishment through writing is just about the best thing since, well, sliced bread.

          Why food writing? you ask. Let’s take a look at three quotes that explore just why food writing sustains and entertains writers and readers:

 

·        “First we eat, then we do everything else.” -M.F.K. Fisher

 

Think back to some of your first memories; most of these remembrances likely involve food, food preparation, eating, snacking, or all of the above . Do these memories involve a birthday party? There was certainly cake with decadent, butter-rich icing or the waft of cocoa powder at the first slice. What about memories of a yearly special occasion shared around the table with family and friends, like the first savory bites of Grandma’s Thanksgiving stuffing with the pecans and what was that delicious spice she always winked and called her “secret ingredient”? 

Food has an undeniable connection to place, culture, and time period that can inspire evocative writing. We often recall not just what we ate and how it tasted (which is a sensory feast enough) but who we were with (or not with), the location, and other events that were occurring while we noshed.

Food brings both comfort and spark points for poetic prose and narrative verse.   Try this: set a timer for fifteen minutes and make a list of foods or dishes from your growing-up and teen years and your young adult days. Any of these foods could make great material for a free write, because they are connected to wider experiences and places in your past or present.  Combine setting details with food details for a richer mixture.

 

·        “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” -Ernestine Ulmer

 

Feel the push-pull in the above quote? That’s part of what makes it delicious, non? Tension and conflict, two hallmarks of literature, are perfect companions for writing about food as well.

As a creative-writing teacher and bookworm, I’ve read many scenes

in novels and nonfiction manuscripts where food served as a backdrop or symbolism for the deeper struggles in characters’ or speakers’ lives. 

For example, you might combine a protagonist who is scared to tell his love interest something about his past with a breakfast scene in which he prepares his love’s favorite waffles. How does he avoid telling this truth, using the food as a go-between? How does he work himself up to sharing this secret? Dialogue as well as description of his actions and the food all work together to deepen the writing.

 

·        “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.” -Nora Ephron

         

Mistakes in life and/or love, who hasn’t made some? Ephron’s quote reminds us, as writers, to employ wry humor as we look back on our pasts. It also reminds that, as disappointing or frustrating as things became, there were silver linings that sustained us.

Cooking and writing, too, share the need for a healthy sense of humor and a silver-lining attitude. Ever made a cake, following the entire recipe, but the cake fell flat or never rose at all. [Instructor raises her hand.] Ever written a draft that seemed so promising and then either stalled mid-draft or just didn’t go in a direction you expected? [Instructor’s hand again goes up.]

Food writing has two great strengths: one, there is the opportunity for humor (perhaps something unexpected, non?). I’ve read hilarious blogs and essays where a writer takes a kitchen disaster or restaurant meal gone wrong and serves up a wider truth about how we rebound and try, try again.

Also, food writing encompasses many, many genres. Its versatility is part of the reason why I love writing food scenes and, for several years now, teaching a writing workshop to encourage others to do so.

·        Like poetry? Try “Figs” by D.H. Lawrence, “Ode to the Onion” by Pablo Neruda, or “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost.

·        Enjoy personal essays and food-journal articles? How about anthologies with both? Try the annual The Best American Food Writing books for inspiration.

·        How about travel writing? Yep, food writing also falls under that category, such as blogs that detail the best bistros and taco trucks in your town or city.

·        I haven’t forgotten the prose writers. Many novels include scenes or even whole chapters where food plays a significant part in the narrative. The examples and sub-genres of fiction that involve food are endless, such as: classics like the party scene in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to children’s books like  Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, YA like Stephanie Burgis’ The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, Contemporary Fiction like Kirstin Chen’s Soy Sauce for Beginners, Romance like Yolanda Wallace’s Month of Sundays, Historical Fiction like Crystal King’s Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome and Philip Kazan’s Appetite, and many more.

 

Go ahead: do a little “food-writing research” today. Pick one of the above food-writing genre examples and research and/or read the piece(s). Then, give food-writing a go on your own. Whether in poetry, prose, or a combination of both, your writing is sure to be richly filling and enhanced with eating imagery.

I’ll be teaching an online writing class, beginning Friday, September 13th. Just four more openings left. Click for more details about this delicious course. Food Writing for Fun and Profit.

 

August Peaches Soft Theme 4-01-18.jpg

My MFA-Themed Article Published Today

Ever wonder when to apply for the MFA? Wonder about my before-MFA journey?

Excellent news: my article, “When’s the Right Time to Pursue an MFA?” was published this morning at NUNUM. Ta-da! :)

Photo:  part of my Artifact Series. :)

Photo: part of my Artifact Series. :)

Amazing New Cover, Same Fantastic Writing Text, Part Two :)

Super excited to reveal this revamped cover for my Poetry Power book.

poetrypower-ebcov-sml_3_orig New Cover Bigger 7-08-19.jpg

It’s the same inspiring, prompt-packed text with a razzle-dazzle, new-and-even-more-glorious cover by the super-talented Jessica Bell.

It’s the perfect time to snag a copy for your bookshelf if you haven’t already AND some gift copies for your writing group, class, favorite beta reader, and creative pals. ;)

Amazing New Cover, Same Fantastic Writing Text, Part One :)

Check out this fabulous new cover for my In a Flash! book.

In a Flash inaflash-ebcov-sml_1_orig Updated Cover Bigger 7-08-19.jpg

It’s the same inspiring, prompt-packed text with a razzle-dazzle, new-and-even-more-glorious cover by the super-talented Jessica Bell.

It’s the perfect time to snag a copy for your bookshelf if you haven’t already AND some gift copies for your writing group, class, favorite beta reader, and creative pals. ;)

What do Poetry and B-Movie Robots have in Common?

Check out this cool video my publisher created for the theme of “Why I read.”

Video with B-movie Robots!

Get your copy of Poetry Power today. Makes a perfect gift for the poet in your life.

Available at Amazon, in ebook or print editions, OR, for signed editions: Poetry Power or as a bundle with my flash book .

Poetry Power 10-26-18.jpg

My Mid-March, April, and May 2019 Online Writing Classes :)

Super excited to share the scoop on my spring 2019 writing and creativity classes at WOW! Whether you love prose, poetry, or photography (or all three, like me), there’s a little something and some big inspiration for everyone.

I’d love to have you join us! Course synopsis and direct links below.

I also just got a batch of my new writing books, In a Flash! and Poetry Power, that are all set to be signed and sent to fellow writers to spark the Muse. I have both individual copies and a special, sale book bundle of both texts that are jam-packed with prompts, examples, and literary goodness.

To a fabulous, creative spring ahead!

Photo courtesy of: @kylejglenn, unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of: @kylejglenn, unsplash.com

beginning Friday, March 15, 2019

I have just a few spaces left in this fun workshop. Reserve your spot today. :)

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Flash is a dynamic, fun genre that more and more editors seek. Both flash fiction and flash nonfiction share many of the same qualities, from characterization and setting to conflict and dialog.

In this five-week workshop, we’ll explore this eclectic art form and everything you’ll need to have a lively flash-writing practice, from where to get ideas and drafting to editing and submitting your work. We’ll discuss practical tips and techniques along with inspiring exercises from our text, In a Flash!: Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose, by Melanie Faith. Students will submit drafts weekly for constructive and supportive instructor feedback. There will be a private group for students to discuss the literary life and for sharing of literary resources, such as markets and quotations about the writing process.

  • Imagery Power: Photography for Writers (back by popular demand!),

    beginning Friday, April 5, 2019

    COURSE 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.

  • Poetry for Publication: An Insider’s View,

    starting Friday, May 3, 2019

    COURSE DESCRIPTION: Ever wonder how to go from scratching drafts in a notebook to sending poems to literary magazines that will get chosen for publication? Ever pondered what editors look for in literary journal submissions? How should we keep track of poetry submissions, and should we do that odd thing: “simultaneously submit?” Ever started a manuscript only to find it all a bit daunting to know what poems to include and which to omit? Want to prepare a chapbook or full-length collection but not sure where to start? How do we get past stalled drafts or stalled manuscripts to persevere and find our writing and reading community? If you've wondered any of these questions, then this is your workshop! Learn real-world, first-hand advice and tips from a poet who has judged poetry contests, published chapbooks and a full-length collection, and regularly submits poetry to literary magazines. Just because it’s chockfull of practical information, doesn’t mean it won’t be fun.

    In this four-week workshop, we’ll explore what literary magazines look for in submissions, how the instructor as well as several other poets put together chapbooks and/or larger collections of poems, and insider advice for editing work with an eye towards publication. Students will read Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems edited by Susan Grimm as well as excerpts from Poetry Power by Melanie Faith. There will be a private group for students to discuss the literary life, ask specific questions related to putting together a submission and/or manuscript, and for sharing of literary resources, such as markets and quotations about the poetry writing and submission process.

    Topics covered will include: Best Foot Forward: Arranging a Poetry Manuscript; Journey without a Map; Finding, Unifying, and Revising the Body of Our Work; Throwing Poems at an Editor to See If They Stick; Keeping Company: Thoughts on Arranging Poems; Write Opportunity, Wrong Timing; Wild Cards: 8 Tips for Choosing Poems for Submission; The Art of Offering Feedback; The Plandid and Other Splendid Editing Options; Lavender Disappointment: on Adjustment of Expectation and Stalled Drafts; 76 Rabbits out of a Hat: or: The Quirky Tale of How One Poem became a Whole Book; 21-Century Publishing & Guidelines for Finding Your Ideal Audience; Spring out of a Writing Rut! 8 Tips for Getting back to Business, and more.

Photo courtesy of: @fotografierende, unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of: @fotografierende, unsplash.com