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Sunday, 24 February 2013

How flash fiction could help with writing a full novel

Christopher Savio

I have to admit that when given the theme of this blog I had to look up flash fiction.  Maybe I have my head so buried in the books I read, writing and marketing that it passed me by.  Perhaps I am just out of the loop?  Whatever the case, upon finding out I have quickly grown a deep respect for it.

As an author I know how hard it is to get just the right word on the page.  Many of us live by the notion that we should use one word where others may use two or three.  

When painting a picture within the reader's mind, we must be complete, yet concise.  Only a few authors can get away with overdrawn descriptions.  Not everyone is Steinbeck and able describe how brown the corn was in the 1930's setting of The Grapes of Wrath.  With all due respect to one of the all time greats, that doesn’t work for every author or every reader. That being said, enter flash fiction.  A genre where one has not only to tell the detail but develop the story in less than one thousand words or less.  Some people ask me how I can write a book of 90,000 words, and most authors can accomplish that with ease, What would be hard for me would be to write a short story.

Even though, I would find it difficult to write a short, but complete, story, I truly feel that flash fiction can be an incredibly important tool for any author.   In the name of making one’s writing more concise, I feel that if each scene in a book were to be written as a series of flash fiction stories that linked together, the end result would be an incredibly fast paced and engaging book.  After all, we all know that some authors (not trying to be critical simply stating what we all know) can drone on and kill a scene because they lack sufficient brevity. 

I hesitate to use one of my favorites as an example, but Stephen King has been criticized for his most recent release of 11/22/63.  I  personally loved the book, but when his character falls in love with a fellow school teacher in Jodie Texas it seemed to be a never-ending two or three hundred page act.  If flash fiction had been employed here, the act would have been trimmed down (but then again who am I to judge? He’s sold millions of books and I haven’t. Yet!).

Looking at The Daguerreotypist  I feel that taking elements of my book and making a series of flash fiction could be interesting.  My favorite scenes were those that dealt with Isaiah Whitfield and The Devil.  I made The Devil less scary on a physical level and brought it to more of an emotional level. 

The Devil likes to play mind games with my antagonist  (I got a chuckle out of the scenes as I wrote). Taking these two characters, Isaiah Whitfield and The Devil, out of the book and creating a piece of fiction story with them could be a very interesting enterprise. 

Imagine the stories one can come up with involving a paranoid serial killer lamenting his choices in life and a character who has the power to mess with the other’s mind! They would make very dark and entertaining short-stories.


When caught between love, murder and Hell, a serial killer's next decision could be his last.

Funny thing about life is that people seldom recognize its beauty or what they have until it’s gone. In 1842 New York City, Isaiah Whitfield, a pioneer in photography (daguerreotypist) and a religious zealot, is no different. Incapable of recognizing anything but the bad in the world, he embarks upon a crusade to perfect society and to bring about the Second Coming. If he can scare people away from sin, even if he has to kill the sinners to do it, Isaiah is certain that he alone can bring about Christ’s return. That is until Satan makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
In 2012, Rachel and her fiancĂ© occupy Isaiah’s old apartment. Rachel, outwardly happy with her life, deep down wants something more. When an undeveloped daguerreotype is found hidden in her studio’s wall it sets her life and the fate of New York City on a collision course with disaster. Rachel falls hopelessly in love with the man in the old picture, but unwittingly frees the now demonic serial killer, Isaiah Whitfield, from Hell. True to form, he immediately goes on killing sprees in two different centuries.

As Rachel finds out, loving a time traveling serial killer straight from Hell has its downsides. For Isaiah, complete blindness to the wonders of this world may have ruined him for ever. Can the power and beauty of love change a demonic serial killer? Can Rachel come to her senses before she loses her fiancé and possibly her own life in the process? In the summer of 2012, the fates of many in New York City depend upon it.

Author Christopher Savio
About author Christopher Savio in his own words: 
'I spent my life bouncing back and forth between Southern California and New Jersey. During my elementary school years I discovered that I have dyslexia. Therefore, I learned to read with a lot of help from my parents and eventually got good enough to read novels. With the influence of my father’s interest in horror movies and history, I read two things, Stephen King and history books. It’s no surprise my stories, have a touch of both in them.

Working with the public, including the rental car business, my father’s diner, and later evolving into a teacher of Native American history, criminology, and special education, has allowed me to draw upon experiences that reveal much about human behavior. My writing reflects many of the different personalities and settings have I’ve come to know first hand. Of course I’ve never come across a demon, witch, the devil himself or a serial killer, but the personalities and people I’ve met are represented within each one of my characters.

On a personal note, I have a family, a house and the white PVC picket fence. I graduated from college and have a dog my kids call Roscoe. (Max from The Beckoning) What’s of more interest to you is that my favorite hobby is writing, the scarier the better. If you love stories that will scare the pants off you that are priced for the 99 per centers like myself, then you have come to the right website.'


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  1. I'll be honest. I have never really thought of doing flash fiction. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I'll have to try it.

  2. My epic (and epically weird) apocalypse story White Pickups began as a 800-word piece of flash fiction. Somehow, this exploded into over 180,000 words across two books (the second of which should be released in April). So yes, writing flash can be good for getting a novel started.

    Funny you mention "each scene in a book [could be] a series of flash fiction stories that linked together" — that's how I wrote White Pickups as a novel, posting a scene each week.

    If anyone wants to try Christopher's very good suggestions, there are resources worth keeping in mind:

    FridayFlash: Write a piece of flash fiction, post it on your blog (usually on Friday). Add the link to the collector at fridayflash.org, open all Friday (EST) and (if you use Twitter) tweet links using the #FridayFlash hashtag. The unwritten rule/custom is, if someone leaves a comment for you, you should reciprocate—its a pretty reliable way to draw new regulars to your blog. Feedback tends to be mostly complimentary; but if you post a real stinker, people will let you know. (Yup, it happened to me.)

    TuesdaySerial: I'm one of three people who maintain the tuesdayserial.com blog and collector. Write (or start) your serial, post it, then add the link to the TuesdaySerial collector (shortcut). There's a ton of guest posts and articles relating to the care and feeding of serials as well.

    Sorry about the length. I hope this was more useful than annoying.

  3. Very cool...I will be honest, I had NO IDEA what Flash Fiction was, and now through this post I have a better understanding....I am a author who actually writes shorter works, mainly novellas to date, the greatest wordcount at 20,000 or so...but I am a NaNo finalist, so there is a 50,000 word count piece that needs ALOT of work yet!

    But I am mainly a crafter of shorter pieces, so Flash Fiction is very intriguing, will have to look further at it:)

    Thanks for sharing, I wish you well on the rest of your tour!:O)

  4. I've never thought about flash fiction that way, but have to agree with your post! Putting all the pieces together could thread out for a potential novel... or at least a premise.

    Pit Crew

  5. I never heard of daguerreotypes before learning of this book!

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com
    Pit Crew

  6. Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to reply.

    And Larry, wow, thanks for those tips. I do sometimes read the #fridayflash or #flashfiction, so will take special notice the next time I look. :)

    If you want to writing something for this blog on it (expand a little more) please get in touch!