Tag: flash fiction

K is for Kill Your Darlings (figuratively, of course) #atozchallenge

Day 11 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Kill your darlings.

The general consensus in writing seems to be, “Kill your darlings.”  It’s meant as being able to chop out big parts of the story that aren’t working, even though you may love the prose.

I’m a bit more literal than that.

I’ve had nine flash fiction stories published, and in four of them, someone dies.  In one, “Bardo Bureaucracy,” everyone obviously is dead. In the novel I’m shining right now, a major character dies.  In the novel I’m still writing, three characters die in the first section.

And it’s rarely a bad guy who’s offed (although I don’t really have bad guys; I try to nuance my characters so that everyone is both good and bad).

Macabre, depressing, or maybe just downright sadistic – call me what you will, but the deaths fit the stories.  They’re not pointless; they help the other characters grow.

If you write, do you frequently kill off characters?  If you read, how do you feel about authors killing off major characters?

F is for Flash Fiction #atozchallenge

Day 6 of the Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: flash fiction.

I’ve been submitting flash pieces and short stories for just over a year now.  I’ve had nine pieces accepted for publication, which averages one every six weeks or so.

I’ve also broken into the double digits with earnings.  Averaged out (and including tax), with each story I’ve made enough to buy myself a large unsweetened iced tea at McDonald’s.

Back on today’s topic, you can read some of my flash stories here.

Unreasonable constraints – lipograms

It’s a well-known fact that writers are crazy masochists.  So crazy and masochistic, in fact, that they often put silly limitations on the words they use when writing.

Dr. Seuss did it with Green Eggs and Ham, written using just 50 words.  Ernest V. Wright wrote his novel Gadsby without the letter e, in a style known as a lipogram.  But as Robert Cass Keller pointed out, that’s easy, and it’s been done. Why not really challenge yourself?

So he suggests removing a few more letters.  Eleven, to be exact: BGJKPQVWXYZ.

My writing group’s assignment for the week:   write a 500-word piece of flash which uses the constraint suggested by Keller as equivalent to an axed e: a total lack of the letters ZQJXKVBYGWP.

I of course waited until the last minute and then got suckered into teaching another class (because really, who needs planning periods?), so I only wrote about 200 words.  It was tough; characters can’t laugh or cry or punch people or shrug or even just think to ask why. 

I’m not sure where exactly my story is even going, but I’ll post what I have here for your reading enjoyment (or not).  Maybe I’ll finish it someday – with or without the entire alphabet.

At Sea (Lipogram)

Hermione sat on a small raft, no smile on her face. The sides of the craft rose from the sea to surround her, some canteens, a container of rations, and Dan, the other one left.

Hermione hated their situation.

She hated Dan more.

Not that he noticed. He sat and smiled. Hummed and trailed his hand off the side. Didn’t care he and she could die.

“It’s so calm out here,” he said to her. “I could remain here for months.”

Hermione clenched her hands at her side. One thrust and he’d irritate her no more. She didn’t need much force at all. Instead she said, “Is that so?”

He motioned his hand at the stuff around them. “I’m content. If I die….” He smiled at her. “It has to occur sometime.”

“I can’t die,” she said. “Not me.”

“All creatures die.”

“Not me,” she said a second time.

Dan nodded, then turned to the sea.

“I tell the truth.”


“I am!”

“It doesn’t matter, does it? Us out here – either die or not. I can’t alter that.” He fell silent, his hand in the sea.

Hermione seethed. Such consent to their situation infuriated her.

Six Sentence Sunday

I’m stealing this idea from JA Belfield.

Laura found herself pouring out the story: her devotion to Sam, their unexpected break-up, her attempts to get back together, his refusal to have anything to do with her, her anger at seeing him with other girls. “He’s doing it on purpose, in front of me, just to rub my nose in the fact that I can’t have him,” she concluded.

“And that makes you angry, right? Because you deserve him and no one else does?” Alec’s eyes gleamed.

Laura nodded, unable to look away.

Today’s six sentences are from “The Kindness of Strangers,” out this week in the Indiana Horror Anthology 2011.  You can play along at the Six Sentence Sunday website.

I need to focus.

Current projects:

  • The Lone Wolf.  I’m hoping that after this latest round of edits (halfway through) I’ll be able to start sending out queries.  However, I realized that the beginning of the first chapter needs to be rewritten, again.  And chapter 15 should be two chapters, which means I need to write another Andrew chapter (fortunately his teenage sister thought she might be pregnant, requiring him to do some soul-searching with respect to his childless relationships and all the small people passing through his life).  Nine months to write the book, and apparently a lifetime to edit it.
  • A Handful of Wishes.  I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately, especially Paribanu’s character and Zeke’s relationship with her.  If I weren’t so stubborn, I’d focus all my energy on this one and come back to The Lone Wolf when I’m a better writer because that one is more nuanced, I think. Oh well.
  • Various short stories and flash pieces.  The nice thing about flash is that if I have an idea, I can usually hash out a story in a day or two.  Then off to my critiquers, and out to the shark tank of the publication world within a week.  It’s a nice break from novels.

Upcoming projects:

  • Aida, the daughter in The Lone Wolf, is demanding a sequel.  She grew up to be just like her father, unfortunately.  This’ll possibly a future NaNoWriMo.
  • But not this year.  I have an idea for that already, and today I realized that it’s going to be half steampunk.  I’ve never written steampunk.  I’ve never even read it (someone said that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea could be considered it).  My closest experience with it was Will Smith in Wild Wild West a dozen years ago.  So looks like my free nonwriting time will involve devouring everything I can on the genre.  And I know what you’re thinking – why not just write a non-steampunk novel?  Oh, Dear Reader, if only it were that easy.
  • I have a list of about a dozen journals I’d like to submit to, only no stories to send in.  So, hopefully working on finding pieces for homes, in addition to homes for pieces already written. On that note, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories recently, trying to see what’s out there.  Maybe with the school year starting soon, I’ll get some inspiration from my students.

What’s on your to-do list, either writing or reading?


“Carpe Diem,” a 500-word flash piece about reconnecting with a lost love, has been accepted by the Journal of Microliterature.  It’s scheduled to appear on July 3rd.

From the editor:  “Thank you so much for the submission! A very cute, touching, intriguing story. While it was perhaps a little lacking on depth, the quality of writing and the emotion attached to the story more than made up for it. Hope to see more from you in the future!”


The Musings of E.D. Martin © 2011-2020 Privacy Policy Frontier Theme