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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Blog: Flashes - Visual and Text


Hey all, this is the fifth Thursday of the month. I decided for the fifth Thursdays instead of pointing you to someone else's blog, to write my own. For this one, I thought I would let you in on how I write a little.

You may have noticed I sort the Sunday Flashes into "Visual Flashes" and "Text Flashes". So, what is the difference? After all, nearly every post I do seems to have a picture associated with it.

First off, flashes are very, very short stories aimed around 1,000 words. Most of mine fall between 500 and 1,200 words. For fifth Sundays, like in January, I will be posting a flash of around 2,000 words. Flashes are meant to be written flat out and tend to be more "scenes" than full short stories requiring character development, plots, and growth. Since I am posting the flashes instead of hiding them away, I do a little editing - correctly the worst of my grammar and spelling errors - before letting the world see my babies.

The difference between Visual and Text flashes is what inspired them. With visual flashes, I am working from a visual prompt. I saw a picture and tried to create a story around the picture. Visual prompts started my blog.

Back toward the end of 2013, I discovered Breathless Press's blog where they posted a picture every Sunday and asked readers/writers to post a line inspired by the picture. I wrote a few flashes - about three-week’s worth. Then I decided to start my own blog and posting the stories there as well. That way if anything happened to Breathless Press, I would still have my stories. Man, am I glad I did that. Because in 2015 the small press died, as so many have done. Publishing is a tough business.

I no longer have any of the original pictures, unless I was able to hunt them down and find the correct permissions. I am a stickler about creative attribution - but that is another blog (likely for the fifth Thursday of June).

Text flashes were written without any visual inspiration. I don't have to tie them to a chair being red or a man wearing suspenders because that was in the picture. These stories may have been inspired by a conversation with a friend, an observation at work, or just spring from my head like Athena from Zeus' (after a very nasty headache). Before posting, I try to find a good picture to go with the story.

A cool note that using visuals as inspiration and using writing to choose a picture have publishing industry equivalents. During the pulp era, sometimes publishing houses would buy a cover from an artist and give it to an in-house writer to build a story around. Modernly, author write the stories picked up by publishing houses, and an in-house artist builds a cover around.

I find that my visual inspirations tend to create new worlds and storylines, while my text flashes revisit and expand the worlds I have previously created.

As a reader, do you have a preference on the stories? Do you find the visual or the text flashes to be more interesting?

As a writer, have you used visual or text prompts for inspiration? Do you find one or the other easier to work with? Have you ever tried to find a picture for a story you wrote or work with an artist?

Comment below.

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