Very Short Stories is a daily writing exercise open to writers of any genre. Each day, the challenge is to create a piece of flash fiction and share it with your followers, using the hashtag #vss.
#Vss365 is along the same lines, only this time writers are given a prompt word to include.
To see what I mean, search the hashtag on Twitter now if you like, I don’t mind waiting…
You’re back – hurrah!
Now, here are a couple of my pieces thrown in for good measure, and because I’m kinda sneaky like that:
‘My mother died on Christmas Eve.
The church bells rang out the next morning, as they always had.
But louder than before.
And somehow, they had lost their melody.’
That was the first piece of flash fiction I ever wrote.
And here’s one that includes a prompt word:
‘The sound of #water dripping in the pipes torments her.
Her lips are cracked, her head too heavy to lift.
A door unlocks. Salvation.
Raising her head with a single finger placed under her chin, he
tips water into her parched mouth.
In that moment, she loves her captor.’
Copywriting and Flash Fiction Go Together Like Peas and Carrots
Well, to that ‘helpful’ person I say balderdash! Or bollocks, to put it more bluntly.
Because the way I see it, copywriting is about stories.
Our job is tell the story of a person, product or business in a way that will hook the attention of the target audience.
In order to do this, you have to know who your readers are.
The more you know about your audience, the easier it becomes to know exactly what words to use and how to use them in a way that will resonate with said audience.
Writing flash fiction is very similar – it’s not just about knowing what to say, the skill is in knowing how to say it.
Ignoring the Wise Old Copywriter
So earlier in the year, I decided to ignore the advice I’d been given and started writing Very Short Stories on Twitter first thing in the morning before starting on client work. It was a great way to get the old creativity flowing.
And because of that pesky 280 character limit, I had to learn how to say more with less – an essential skill for a copywriter.
As a result, I learnt more about pace, suspense, impact and brevity than I ever could have imagined.
After a couple of weeks of doing the exercise every morning, I started to see a massive improvement in my writing. And I don’t just mean the flash fiction I was writing, I noticed the client work I was doing was better, too.
Taking a Chance
So on a whim, I decided to enter the annual Serious Flash Fiction Competition. And I’m delighted to say that, despite having only ever won a tin of ravioli at a school harvest festival, I was among the winners!
The winning entry features in their 2018 anthology (edited by Ben Warden, who launched the competition), alongside some outstanding work from other established and emerging writers.
So the lesson here is to walk your own path, or if you’re a Fleetwood Mac fan you might prefer to go your own way.
The important thing is to have the courage to do what feels right to you as writer, despite what people with more experience are telling you.
Because guess what?
While they may know a lot of stuff you don’t and have a lot they can teach you, they don’t know everything.
Read, Write, Repeat
Do you know what the best way to learn is? By doing.
Because while I may have been in this business for over seven years, I still have a lot to learn.
A piece of my flash fiction is also featured in ‘Serious Flash Fiction: Volume 4‘, and having won the competition for a second time in 2019, you’ll find three more of my short stories in ‘Serious Flash Fiction: Volume 5‘.
Image Credit: Kyle Glenn, Unsplash