Flash and Short Fiction Collections

If you choose to self-publish your own flash and short fiction on amazon, you’re going to find that you can’t just upload one flash story and sell it. Amazon has a minimum on minimum word count. Besides you want to give your reader enough bang for their buck (literal buck. I advise to keep your collections at 99 cents. You won’t be making a lot of money, its more to get your work out there and read).

So how do you decide what stories to put together? Well you have a lot of options. Some of these you may want to think about before you even start writing. Collections can be tied together in many ways.

1. Theme. Using one theme, tell many different stories that reflect it, that examine it.

2. Character. Using one character, tell a bunch of stories about them.

3. Magic. Write a bunch of stories that explain and show off your magic system.

4. World. Write a bunch of stories that explain and show off your world.

5. Multi-linked. This is where each story that follows is linked to the one before it but not to any of the rest. For example my first story is about elves. The second story is also about elves but has the theme of light always conquers the darkness. The next short wouldn’t have elves but would examine the same theme of light and darkness. And so forth.

6. Genre. The only thing linking the stories is a similar genre, especially if you focus on a sub-genre.

Another thing you can do that can help sell your other self-published (or even traditionally published) longer works is making short story collections that reflect an aspect of your theme, world, characters, magic systems or all of the above of the longer work. This lets people “try out” your story without putting down a lot of money. It can also make them fall in love with your work and make it impossible not to purchase more.

So whether or not you use your short fiction to promote any other writing you do, short story collections can be a lot of fun to both make and sell.

Has anyone self-published their short fiction work? How did you do it and how well did it do?

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How to Write Flash Fiction

Writing flash fiction that has meaning is as simple as following a formula. Now some people hear the word formula and they immediately think derivative however I don’t believe that. I think formulas are useful. I’m going to share what I use as a formula that I learned from Holly Lisle’s How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.

First you take a character plus a need plus something standing in the way of their need and you have the beginning of a story. This can be for a flash or even a longer story. My example is a lost (need) fairy (character) searching for home as the sun sets (problem).

Next you add two complications to your problem (three for longer works). My example complications are sun sets and with it her powers disappear (complication one) and then the night creatures come out to stalk her (complication two).

Finally you resolve the problem, either giving the character what they need or denying the character what they need. Add some meaning to it and you’ve got your story. I find the endings are the hardest part of writing flash fiction. Tying everything up and then leaving the reader satisfied but wanting more is a tough challenge. I find that I tend to use two different kinds of endings. One is the opposite of what the reader expects and the other is the opposite of what the character expects happening. My example ending is the fairy uses her wits to outsmart the night creatures and finds home. Nice happy ending for my story. (Which is rare for me. The ending I’d expect is for her to get eaten, but that isn’t very satisfying).

Check out Holly Lisle’s FREE flash fiction course for more detailed breakdowns of beginning, middles and ends. What she says about endings is particularly awesome. And its free.

My example isn’t great but it wrote itself basically in ten minutes or so. I just did the small amount of planning beforehand and then wrote. Your finished piece won’t necessarily look like your outline (just as it is with longer works).

If you have a hard time coming up with ideas, random generators are always fun to use. Just don’t feel constrained by them. Use it to spark your own creativity.

How do you write flash fiction? How do you get your ideas?