Trying new writing styles: Flash Fiction

I’ve always enjoyed pushing the boundaries of my writing. Trying new things. My dear friend, Ivy Lord (aka Maggie Ford) warned me that once your writing gains popularity with a certain kind of reader, your publisher, whoever they maybe, will expect you to continue writing in that genre. Knowing this, I never wanted to remain stuck in a genre I wouldn’t find either inspiring or enjoyable. From the beginning of my writing journey, I knew what kind of books I enjoyed reading, so I began writing in that style. The Victorian ghost and mystery writers wrote to entertain the whole family, with a chilling tale, so that’s the kind of writing I wanted to reflect in my stories.

When I first started writing, I did what all new writers do and started by trying to write a novel. Novel writing, I quickly discovered, if you’ve never tackled writing one before, is a long and difficult project. If the only writing you’ve ever done was at school, in your creative writing class and that was a short essay, then tackling a novel of 50k -120k isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it can become overwhelming and disheartening. Writing the first draft might seem like a walk in the park once you’ve finished writing it, but that’s where the hard work begins as you start tackling the long process of editing it. Of course, like all newbie writers, we dream of the fame and fortune that our first book will bring us, too. Unfortunately, that’s just a dream. Many of us, aren’t even covering the costs of promoting our books after publication.

We all suffer rejection even the Literary Ace Snoopy.

After I wrote, or should I say, attempted to write my first novel, I quickly learnt I didn’t have enough skills or understood all the different stages needed to bring my novel to a high standard for it to be good enough to submit for publication. So I turned to writing short stories.

Writing short stories gives you the opportunity to master all the skills needed to tackle a novel as well as them being short enough for family and friends to give you feedback on. The shortness of the length, which can be between 1k – 10k words in length, helps you to feel you have accomplish something quite quickly. Once you’ve finished your short story, then it’s time to tackle the skill of learning how to edit it.

It’s important to know mastering the skill of writing short stories isn’t wasted time. Once you have a few stories completed, and that means well-edited, too, you might think about entering them into competitions, or for submission call-outs. Having work published, or a few competition wins helps build your confidence so when you then start writing a novel you work is much tighter, you know how to build tension from the opening of your book, characters, keep the flow and pace of your plot line going, and how to finish the novel tying all the threads of the plot together at the end.

Now you’ve mastered telling a short story in a thousand words plus, what about tackling just 100 words. I never thought I could do it, until I came across an Australian publisher called Black Hare Press.

Is it possible to tell a short story in one hundred words? Well, here’s one of mine. First published in 2019 Black Hare Press Anthology. Dark Moments: Year One

Here Comes the Knock

Streetlights darken. Laughter fills the air. Eager fresh faces dart everywhere. “Trick or Treat,” echoes in porches.

I drop the grubby net curtain. Anticipation races through me. Ghosts from my past gather.  I wait in the shadow. The razor in my hand gleams. Here comes the knock. Laughter bubbles in my throat. Haven’t their parents warned them about stranger danger?

“Trick or treat, Mister?”

The blade bites as it finds its mark. How sweet and warm is the spray of blood as it runs down my face. Young flesh is far sweeter than their sugary sweets. “My treat, I think!”


  1. I normally write crime novels – easy going ones (no bad language, no excessive violence), 12 out of 15 books to date. My latest, however, is a novella entitled “the Door”. It is totally unlike anything I have previously written. Some while ago someone posted a picture on Facebook. It showed a single door (nothing else) in a forest. They asked what would you think if you came across such a scene? I suggested that it could be a portal to another time or place. They challenged me to come up with a story. The result is “The Door”

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  2. Great post Paula. I rather prefer to write in short story or essay style for my books. I also enjoy reading short stories. I stretched myself to writing poetry and flashfiction (although I’ve published neither for some time now), but it’s fun to flex our muscles. One thing I can’t see me writing is fiction. 🙂


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