In short, Flash Fiction is a fictional piece of prose in extreme brevity but still offering character and plot development. They can be defined by word count, which includes the six-word story, the 280-character story; commonly known as twitterature’, the dribble or minisaga, 50 words, the drabble or microfiction, 100-words, sudden fiction (750 words), flash fiction (1000 words), nanotale and micro-story. This genre possesses a unique literary quality, in its ability to hint at or imply a larger story. In the 1920s flash fiction was referred to as the “short short story”.
Flash fiction roots go back into prehistory, recorded at origin of writing, which included fables and parables, the best know is of course, Aesop’s Fables in the west, and Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India. In Japan, flash fiction was popularized in the post-war period particularly by Michio Tsuzuk. In the United State early forms were found int he 19th century by such notable figures as Ambrose Bierce, Walt Whitman and Kate Chopin.
There are many internet sites and magazines that accept flash or micro fiction. I have submitted micro stories before and found them to be great fun!
Both. For me, writing includes considering various plot ideas and marinating them in my head. I look for incidents that disrupt characters’ lives so they need to change course and deal with the consequences. That’s the exhausting part.
I get energized when the core of a plot develops, and characters materialize to tell the story. For me, that’s when the best part of writing begins.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Getting myself to forget everyday obligations for a while and sit at the computer. Learning to make writing a priority is still a work in progress. However, I’m getting a lot better now that I have a published novel.
Do you have other author friends and how do they help you become a better writer?
Yes. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who writes in the same genre. It’s wonderful to exchange ideas and share problems and triumphs with a writing buddy who understands the process, helps with the craft, encourages and motivates. We try to meet in person every two weeks, and we email in between. Let’s face it, most people don’t get what it’s like to create and live with imaginary characters who’ve become part of one’s life.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I became attached to the cast of characters in my first book, published last November, and set primarily in a pair of small New England seacoast towns. Readers have let me know they want to know what happens to supporting players in that book. For those reasons, I’m planning to keep the area, as well as threads about the characters in my second novel. I want people to be able to read it as a stand-alone as well if they choose.
What was the best money you spent as a writer?
Two ways. Years ago, I took a summer institute on newspaper writing, publicity, and promotion. It was inexpensive and one of the professors had top newspaper and advertising names as guest instructors. I still use what I learned.
Another worthwhile expenditure was, and still is, buying an overabundance of best-selling novels in varied genres. I study structure, style, and try to analyze elements that make a popular book. The downside is it’s hard for me to read only for pleasure
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I learned specifically about written word power in early grade school. Each year, we were required to write an essay about something in nature for a statewide contest. The teachers encouraged vivid similes and metaphors. My ruby leaves and icy moons often won certificates.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?
My writing mascot chose me. Tux is a tolerant black and white cat of a certain age. Among his talents are stretching out on piles of paper without disturbing them and head butting the laptop screen gently when he decides I need a break. Listening is one of his strongest points.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
No books, but there are many short stories. I didn’t have the confidence to attempt a novel until one of the short stories decided there was a lot more to tell. It took about four years, but eventually, the story became my book.
What does literary success look like to you?
First, I want people to buy and enjoy reading my novel. I’ve written about mid-life characters who get a chance to fall in love again. When readers finish my book….hopefully books….I want them to have a sense of optimism, hope, and confidence that life can be wonderful at any age. Of course, it would be lovely to be widely read as well.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Of course, I use the computer for whatever I can. Then, because some settings in the stories are popular tourist spots, I visit them and take notes. Details need to be correct, or the credibility of a book suffers as far as I’m concerned. Angie, the heroine, has an unusual business. She’s a Nurse Concierge. I spent a lot of time researching what that involves. Ben is from England but he now lives in the US. I had to get information on dual citizenship requirements. Then I had to learn about high tech company practices and offers for takeovers of small businesses.
I do some research during the development stage of the book, but it’s ongoing through the first draft at least, sometimes even later in the process.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
In defining the writing process, I include developing the book idea, and the marinating that goes on in my head before actually putting fingers to computer keys. During that phase, my writing is sporadic, maybe two or three days a week for an hour or two. I hide from the work, finding it necessary to iron, throw out old mail, anything but get to the story.
When the story starts to gel, and characters begin chatting, I can write for several hours a day with intense concentration. It wouldn’t be unusual to stay at it for 6 hours or more, letting most everything else in my life slide. I don’t write daily. Because I’m mostly a pantser, I need to think about what I’d like to see happen.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Names come after the characters take shape. I consider their personalities and traits, as well as how they appear physically in my imagination. I also think about what sounds good to my ear. Last names come to my mind randomly. First names might come from an online list, the newspaper, or an old telephone book.
What was your hardest scene to write?
That’s easy. It was my first serious love scene, beyond kissing. Getting the elements of tender romance, mutual longing and participation, enough raciness to make it interesting, and avoiding offensive description was a challenge.
Why did you decide to write in your particular field or genre?
I started writing fiction as a second career. I was an RN for many years. Several friends found second romances in their middle years, and I enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the happiness their relationships brought. There are not many novels dealing with people forty and over falling in love and successfully merging already full lives. I thought it would be fun to join the emerging field of writing love stories about people with life experience.
What inspires you?
Many things, but mostly watching and listening to people. It could be a couple holding hands on the street; two people laughing softly together; or seeing someone comfort a partner;
There is an incident I remember vividly that will find its way into a story. Two people were sitting across from each other in a coffee shop. Although they never touched, as they talked, their eyes were focused on each other every second. Their smiles were gentle, and I felt the connection as a palpable wave of love.
How do you make or find time to write.
I push down the guilt at not doing other things and just get to it. It’s taken some effort to convince myself that this is not just a hobby now, but a second career. I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so thinking of writing as a real job has helped.
What project are you working on at present?
My major effort is promoting my new novel, This Time Forever. I still have so much to learn about methods of attracting an audience, promotion is close to a full time job. The novel is in an emerging genre, sometimes referred to as ‘Seasoned’ or ‘Midlife’ Romance. Angie and Ben, the two main characters are 57 and 60 respectively. I think they show that pursuing love in their phase of life is just as adventuresome, wonderful, and sexy as ever. So far, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been favorable, and there’s growing feedback that people enjoy reading about contemporaries.
I’m also working on getting a website and improving my Facebook and Amazon Authors page.
What do your plans for future projects include?
There’s another book in the development/mental marination phase. The New England Seacoast will continue as the setting. It is another Romance, with the main characters in the 50-60 age range.
Aaron swung his legs onto the cold hardwood floor and cradled his head in his hands. Sleep had come; surprisingly; shortly before dawn – a short respite from his inner turmoil. The previous hours had seen him suffering intense horror and fright. What should he do now? Would anyone believe his story or even understand Shelley’s actions? Even Aaron was having difficulty comprehending why she would do such a thing.
With a deep breath Aaron slowly stood up and pulled on jeans and a T-shirt. He would have to face the carnage now, his first instinct, last night, had been to run but where could he have run to? No matter where he went they would hunt him down. He had huddled into the corner of the room shaking with fear and shock – his mind exploding with repeated images of their argument and Shelley’s vicious words cutting him as surely as any knife. Her unreasonable behavior had escalated the more he tried to pacify her and reassure her of his love. Her ear piercing screaming had been accompanied with any object within arm’s reach being thrown at him as Shelley emphasized her cruel words. Shards of glass and china showered down the walls and littered the floor – several had found their target and Aaron could now see cuts and bruises up the length of his arms. As he grabbed the bedroom door handle he struggled to keep his hand from shaking – afraid to face the scene of their fight.
You can’t stay in here for the rest of your life Aaron – get going. He walked through the doorway and down the hallway into the large living room. The absolute destruction of the room was similar to what a tornado could do. Picture frames, vases, lamps, chairs – all were broken or shattered and strewn like discarded toys. Aaron headed for the front door stepping carefully to avoid sharp shards of glass embedding into his bare feet. Once at the door he put on a pair of trainers and turned to face the devastation, but his body refused to continue turning toward the far corner. Images flashed across his vision of Shelley’s angry contorted face as spit flew out of her mouth along with her venomous words. Aaron stumbled as the flashback drained his head of blood. Don’t pass out in the midst of this mess, get control for God’s sake.
Aaron up-righted a chair and sat down taking deep breathes in an effort to keep calm. A ray of sunlight pierced through the drapes and threw glints of light around him, revealing the extent of the damage. It truly did look like a tornado had blown through, there didn’t seem to be anything left unscathed. Aaron’s ears buzzed with the absolute silence so startling after last night’s turmoil. You need to look now. He turned to face the far corner, all his muscles tensing in anticipation to see her body – the gun still in her hand.
Drama is a genre of narrative fiction (although initially a genre of poetry) and specifically the mode of fiction most commonly represented by performances, whether a theater play or on radio, television or movie. The earliest work of dramatic theory was Aristotle’s Poetics.
A definition of literary drama states ‘a composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character, especially one intended to be acted on the stage; a play. 2. the branch of literature having such compositions as its subject; dramatic art or representation’.
This genre can be qualified by the many sub-genres: legal drama, domestic drama, comedy-drama, political drama or historical period drama etc. Each of these represents a specific setting or subject matter.
Crime drama and legal drama: character development based on themes involving criminals, law enforcement and the legal system.
Historical drama (epic) (including war drama): films that focus on dramatic events in history.
Horror drama: a film that focuses on imperiled characters dealing with realistic emotional struggles, often involving dysfunctional family relations, in a horror setting. The film’s horror elements often serve as a backdrop to an unraveling dramatic plot.
Docudrama: the difference between a docudrama and a documentary is that in a documentary it uses real people to describe history or current events; in a docudrama it uses professionally trained actors to play the roles in the current event, that is “dramatized” a bit. Not to be confused with docufiction.
Psychodrama: an action method, often used as a psychotherapy.
Comedy-drama: film in which there is an equal, or nearly equal, balance of humour and serious content.
Melodrama:a sub-type of drama films that uses plots that appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience. Melodramatic plots often deal with “crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, strained familial situations, tragedy, illness, neuroses, or emotional and physical hardship”. Film critics sometimes use the term “pejoratively to connote an unrealistic, pathos-filled, camp tale of romance or domestic situations with stereotypical characters (often including a central female character) that would directly appeal to feminine audiences”. Also called “women’s movies”, “weepies”, tearjerkers, or “chick flicks”. If they are targeted to a male audience, then they are called “guy cry” films.
Romantic drama: a sub-type of dramatic film which dwells on the elements of romantic love.
What ‘drama’ genre do your novels fit into?
Which of your novels would you most want to become a movie?
For me I think The Twesome Loop – I would concentrate on the four main characters for the movie though.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing energizes me unless it’s a really emotional scene and then I’m exhausted. Being a writer, being able to sit down and write each day, it fills my well. My husband knows when I haven’t found time to write…apparently, I tend to get slightly grumpy (lol).
What is your writing Kryptonite? This is a hard question to answer. Let me get back to you…(I’m afraid to admit to it because then it’ll be real, you know?)
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Absolutely. In fact, I’ve decided to create a pen name for a new series of books I’ll be writing and publishing starting this summer. But it won’t be a secret – I’ll be writing under J.M. Jack.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a community of writers that are near and dear to my heart. There’s a group of four that get together once a month and chat almost daily. Then I have a large online group that I meet up with every conference I can attend. The community of writers is amazing and I’m so glad to have a large group of peers I can call friends.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I prefer to write standalones but I have written a few series. I find them harder to write – probably because when I began them, they weren’t series in my head.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Signing up for classes with Margie Lawson. She has changed my writing! As well as purchasing Scrivener and Vellum.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? House by Ted Dekker.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A black sheep!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Probably around 5 that will never see the light of day.
What does literary success look like to you? Having a vast readership where people can name me as one of their favourite authors.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I tend to research as I’m writing. It can be in the form of reading articles, calling professionals…whatever is needed.
How many hours a day/week do you write? I write a minimum of 1000 words a day. Some days I can get those words in 2 hrs, some days it takes me 8 hours. I write 5 days a week. I take one day off on the weekend and then plot on the other day.
13. How do you select the names of your characters? I always ask my readers for names…they are the best resource I have!
14. What was your hardest scene to write? Every book has a hard scene to write. In The Forgotten Ones, it was when someone died. I bawled so hard I ended up with a massive headache.
15. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? I write what I love to read and what I’m passionate about. I tend to focus on one book at a time so that it gets my full attention.
16. long have you been writing? Full time, since 2010. But I began back in 2005.
17. What inspires you? My family, my faith and my readers.
18. How do you find or make time to write? It’s not a matter of finding time to write, it’s deciding that writing is important to me and so I will write. If anything is important it will become a part of your lifestyle.
19. What projects are you working on at the present? I am working on my upcoming novel that will be out with my publisher in 2019.
20. What do your plans for future projects include? I have a new series that I’ll be publishing beginning this summer that I’m really excited about. It’s about a woman who helps to rescue abused women from cults.
21. Share a link to your author website. steenaholmes.com – I have a free book readers can download if they join my newsletter.