Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

Editor, Tara L. Masih

Review by Timothy Gager

· Paperback: 208 pages

· Publisher: Rose Metal Press; First edition (May 13, 2009)

· ISBN-10: 0978984862

· ISBN-13: 978-0978984861

As a writer of flash fiction, I found this field guide extremely interesting, pertinent and useful. It is full of surprises and mind opening essays for those who only look at flash or very short fiction in a limited way.. The essays included in this book read like a who’s who in the form of very short fiction. These are authors that I’ve read and admired for either their economy of language, their punch of prose or their paint strokes of fast and deep emotion. Included are many personal favorites of mine such as Randall Brown, Rusty Barnes, Kim Chinquee and Pamela Painter whom are only a small piece of this literary all-star team ripe for the reading.

Inside the pages of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction you will receive twenty-five short written lectures; points of view of what comprises great flash fiction. There also are writing exercises intended to help writers of various skill levels create work from each point of focus. This is very helpful if you like to write from prompts. Each author also pick examples of flash fiction pieces they feel back up their points.

Fiction today, especially what you may read on-line tends to run shorter in length than ever before. Whether it is the short attention span of readers, the need for something quick and hard hitting and grabbing as a computer read. Whatever the reason, flash fiction has become increasingly popular to both writers and readers. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction demonstrate this phenomena in great detail by the varying theories from each author, whom all have different focuses on the same point.

The book is aptly presented as a “field guide”, and I couldn’t agree more with that descriptor. It is user friendly, can be picked up and read at any chapter point break by any individual, writing group or classroom. The book also presents historic references of fiction, short fiction, micro-fiction and flash. Shouhua Qi points out the early origins from the Chinese short short or what is called a “Smoke-Long story”. (note: Randall Brown, the editor of Smoke Long Quarterly is also included in Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction) TRMPFGTWFF also distinguishes between narrative/prose poetry and flash fiction---often viewed as interchangeable. Robert Olen Butler says on the form, “it may not have a fully developed plot, but it must have the essence of a plot, a yearning.” Steve Almond instructs as on how to turn your bad poetry into fantastic flash, which was an essay I found to be extraordinarily useful and entertaining.

Jennifer Pieroni’s thoughts on the purpose of images “smart and surprising” was also useful, not only to those whom enjoy Jennifer’s writing but also whom read her and her well know magazine, Quick Fiction (TRMPFGTWFF indirectly shows you what certain editors like). Kim Chinquee presents us with examples of five distinctly different stories based on the same event. Rusty Barnes, author of Breaking It Down and Editor of Night Train, takes you on a journey in the revision process. Randall Brown points out ways to “make flash count’ for the aspiring author.

I highly recommend this book as a learning tool and prompt generator. It pulls from the insight of today’s very best writers of short shorts, many whom are the editors of some of very well known anthologies, magazines and journals of fiction.

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