Saturday, January 2, 2010

Finding My Niche, Possibly in Flash Fiction

Last November a number of my writing friends took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo):

A synopsis of NaNoWriMo from Wikipedia:

I on the otherhand, decided to pass, since I was much too busy with my other projects. At this point in time, my writing is more of a hobby rather than a profession. In fact, the stories I write, are about my wargaming hobby--a hobby within a hobby, so to speak.

While I've written several gaming articles these past few years and created YouTube movies within this past year, the question lingering in the back of my mind is: What nich does my work fall in to?

Wargame "battle reports" or "after action reviews (AARs)" can combine the elements of military history, historical fiction and narrative non-fiction, to name a few. Some wargames are even set within the realms of science-fiction and fantasy, like Star Trek, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, each with a literary "history" of it's own.

None of my work fits neatly into any of the genres mentioned above. So I was still looking for a niche.

Then a couple months ago, I came across a book review of Rose Metal Press' Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction in The Writer Magazine (Dec 09, pg 44, by Amy Wallen).

After reading this, I ordered a copy of the book, which was the subject of my last post, and examined my YouTube movies. Of the 18 shows I've produced so far, the longest runs just over 8 minutes with a narrative word count of less than 800 words.

The definition of flash fiction, or short-short story, varies, but is usually a piece of work containing anywhere from 250-1,000 words:

So can my YouTube movies be considered flash fiction?


One of the best ways to create a lasting impression in a short story or flash fiction is to hit the reader with surprise twist at the end, even if it's only in the last sentence.

The only surprise in my stories occur when a game's outcome differs than what occurred in history, or established lore, in the case of science fiction or fantasy. In some of my previous articles I included a fictional encounter as an introduction. The pattern is the same for each of these vignettes: A leader confronts an enemy host and must decide what to do next. Does he attack? Stand and defend? Or retreat? It is this critical decision point--before the battle is joined--that I find most fascinating, because once a choice has been made and the forces committed to action, there's no turning back.

Even after reading through the flash fiction field guide, I'm still not sure if my work can be pigeon-holed into this genre. But as long as my YouTube movies come in at less than 1K's worth of words, then it makes sense to use it as a template--until I start writing longer stories.

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