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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Dave's Micro Posts Part 4

The End of July, 2019

For today’s dose of Dave’s Wisdom concerning Micro Fiction, read an excerpt from a piece I wrote, a piece of horror, and see what magic Dave works with it.

  • Don't want to scare anyone off, but be warned. General torture ahead.

Original Hook - (185 words)She woke to pain. She felt beaten and broken from top to bottom. Her toes had throbbed all night in those sky-blue Christian Louboutin candidate pumps she had worn, so she wasn’t sure if that particular suffering was new or not. She ached inside as well. Her dress! Her gasp changed to a grimace as a sharp pain lanced through her side. She had never broken a rib, but she had suffered through many Sundays of watching football with her fiancĂ© and remembered the agony he reminisced about after every injury on the screen. She was pretty sure it was the same. She cracked open an eye, crusted with blood. The other eye wouldn’t open at all. An aroma of metal, sweat, and drying blood drowned out her Chanel No. 5. Her mouth felt sticky and dry. Her tongue worked around clumps of some viscous substance and several new gaps in her once perfect smile. She sobbed then. From the pain and the silly little thought of the years she had worn braces and headgear to get her teeth all neat in a row. Ruined.

Concise Hook – notice the story does not change. (70 words)

She awoke to awful pain. From head to toe, every inch of her body suffered from the torture she endured at the hands of her captor. She managed to force one blood crusted eye open, while her tongue searched her mouth, but her tongue found only stumps where once her beautiful teeth glistened in smile. She sobbed from the memory of the years she wore braces to create that smile.

Note: In the revision I omitted the part about the husband. More info about her captor might show a greater sense of the situation. In a longer story, the husband section might bring a greater mood to the story, but for flash fiction stick to the essentials. The writer may find many ways to revise the story, and the hook. One perfect way does not exist.

You can read the entire original short piece here.

For the student: Please read the entire original story and see what you can do to produce a more concise story.


Tune in tomorrow for our last day of Dave's takeover. Don't forget, he is asking for submissions of micro work you have done. Send it in to him! 

email: editor (AT) netsite21 (DOT) com
Facebook: Writer1947

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Dave Part 3 Flash Fiction

Howdy folks and welcome back to Dave’s Takeover. Today is Part 3. This post focuses on Flash fiction (stories composed of 1000 words or less, from Dave’s first post on Micro Writing, here). Those who missed yesterday's Part 2 can find it here. Enough from me though, let me turn it over to the Micro Master.

Micro Writing Part 3: Flash – The Core of Short Fiction

Flash Fiction occupies space in a robust market for storytellers. The list of markets, non-paying and professional grows daily.

The essential elements of great Flash fiction are not difficult to master, but the writer should consider the difficulties encountered in the process.

First, consider setting. Flash does not accommodate lengthy settings, unless the piece is about setting. Not many writers write a whole story about setting, especially when they write fiction. Hint at setting in short bursts if necessary.

Second, think structure. Most flash writers will tell you to skip all the introduction details and begin your story in the middle. The traditional middle becomes the end. Start where the true story lies, not after you’ve written a lengthy preface-like introduction. Go for the heart. Skip long expositions in narrative and focus on the crisis and characters.

[Frank here: The fancy term for starting in the middle of the story is In Medias Res, Latin for “into the middle of things”. A classic example of this type of writing is Homer’s Odyssey (link is to the entire text for those who want to brush up). For those who like modern examples, American Sniper starts with the main character already in the Middle East, behind a gun. 

In Medias Res, however, is not quite what Dave is suggesting, as it involves going back and filling in the story through a series of flashbacks or similar devices. For flash writing, starting in the middle allows you to grab your reader instantly and complete the story in 1000 words or less. Back to Dave…]

Third, envision strong characters. Since flash fiction exists in 750 to 1000 words, the writer must know the characters in depth. In order to cull the words that do not forward the story, great language is essential to the style.

Never start with weather – you’re wasting word. Perhaps you may wish to indicate weather in passing, but make it brief. Once again, you may incorporate weather into the narrative rather than describing the weather.

Keep the number of characters few. Too many characters eat space, and consume words.

Short: John heard the distant roll of thunder.

Long/wordy: The sky darkened and rain clouds rolled in from the west. Lightning blasted the sky and thunder pounded his eardrums. <-Wasted words UNLESS the story is about thunder, etc.

Start in the middle of the story. With only 750 to 1000 words, the writer has little space to “set up” the story.

Long setup:
Danny watched the cattle from his farmhouse window. In the distance, a rider on horseback approached across the low hills. Near the gate, the rider reined his horse, dismounted, and opened the gate. The rider wore black, much like the Parson wore at church.

Short setup (start with crisis):
Danny wondered why the distant rider approached at such speed. “Bad news comes from fast riders,” his father always said.

The middle of a Flash story focuses on the crisis and how the character approaches, disregards, or solves the crisis.

The ending should answer why the character acted as he did, show why he failed, what he learned, or present an ironic answer. Please, no “Deus Ex Machina,” where a miraculous event saves the day.
Flash should be a full, self-contained story with solid Hook, solid narrative, and solid characters. Don’t forget the five senses. Show, don’t tell and avoid long passive verbs.

He was going. <-passive
He went, <-active

I plan to edit and publish a collection of flash and micro fiction in the near future. If you are interested, please feel free to send an email inquiry to me.

email:   editor (AT) netsite21 (DOT) com
Facebook:  Writer1947

 Tomorrow in Part 4, I will dissect a piece of Frank’s writing.

Good writing,

Dave is an internationally published writer, teacher, mentor, and editor.

Note: The flash non-fiction market is growing as well. If you enjoy writing non-fiction, perhaps you might consider the possibilities for your talents.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dave - Micro Part 2

Hey there! It's your favorite smuggler again, handing over the reins to Despicable Dave for another round of his zaniness. Read along as he elucidates the mysteries of how to write Micro Fiction. Enjoy.

Part 2 - How to Write Micro Fiction
Micro Fiction is all about One Moment in Time. A trigger event happens, and the main character either learns from the event, or fails in some manner. The micro contains a few basic elements:
1.      Economy of language. Use sharp concise sentences, active verbs. Don’t dally with long verb forms such as “was going.” Use active verbs like “raced, leaped,” etc.
2.      Write lean descriptions. Omit the person’s hair color unless the story is about hair color.
3.      Setting. Use minimal settings. “Beneath the pine tree, something happened.” No more description is required.
4.      Crisis. A crisis must occur in some form.
5.      Think “who, what, when, where, why, and how.”
6.      Be wary of back-story.
7.      Irony is useful – especially to form the end of the story.
8.      Start as close to the end as possible.
When you write, focus upon story, but make sure you watch the language. When you complete the story, be sure to read it aloud. Sometimes the read will show quirks in language or a word that just doesn’t quite “fit.” Cut the fat. Revise to strengthen the story. Read aloud one more time.

Capture that one moment in time...

Here are several shorts for you to read. Discover how clear the writing is, and how the entire story of the one moment in time evolves with few words.

The first story is a Micro is by Catherine Shields. In the story, she explores irony. Enjoy.

Blessed Curse
-Catherine Shields
“I couldn’t save her. Mary bled to death,” the midwife said.

John smashed his fist on the table. Plates and shards of broken glass clattered to the floor.
He heard the cries of a baby from the other room. “God, why did you take her?” he cursed.

The midwife came from the other room and placed the tiny child into his arms.

John rubbed his eyes and prayed the baby would die. He couldn’t live without Mary.

Damn the child.

Catherine is a retired educator from Miami, Florida. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association and her works appear in 45 Magazine Women’s Literary Journal, Levitate Magazine, Ariel Chart, and other publications. Her completed memoir, “Another Side Of Normal.” is in revision.

The second story is a Drabble – written with exactly 100 words.

Morning Glory
-Alice Cook

“Ah, Sonya, how beautiful your skin looks in the morning light.” Michael’s eyes drifted to the windows, and the lush green forest beyond. “I don’t want to leave. I feel as if this moment will be forever burned into my memory.”

Michael’s hand traced across her stomach and along the curve of her breast. “Yet, I can’t bear to see you like this.” He grasped the cold steel handle of the knife and jerked it from her chest.

Sonya’s head rolled to the side. His lips touched hers and he whispered, “It’s a shame for it to end this way.”

Alice is a psychologist from Geelong. Australia. Her works appear internationally.

In Part 3, we will examine Flash Fiction, and how to write powerful stories with 750 to 1000 words. And one of Frank's pieces will go under the Micro knife.

Good Writing,

Thanks again for sharing Dave, and your writers as well.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dave Owens - Micro Writing Part 1

For the next several days, Dave Owens will be guest blogging a series on Micro Writing, one of his many specialties. I am honored to have him share his knowledge. Besides being an author, editor and writing mentor, he is an absolute genius at getting the most bang out of every word. Here is Part 1 of his long piece on Micro writing. Enjoy.


Micro Fiction Part – 1
Think Big, Start Small

Micro Fiction is a great way for new writers to “break into” fiction writing, an enjoyable process, and a wonderful way to build your writing credits. Writing credits are important and a part of your resume for you to proudly display when someone reads your work. Over time, you develop your resume, and weed the weaker entries, until your resume reflects who you are: a well-published writer.

What is Micro Fiction? Depending on whom you ask, the answers will be “all over the place,” but a few basics remain constant. You will enjoy a wide range of possibilities to excite your storytelling wonders.

Definitions (sort of)
Twits are stories written with exactly 140 characters (do you see it coming?), yes – for Twitter fans. 53 word stories, for the sci-fi crowd (53 is a prime number), consist of exactly 53 words. Next, come the Drabbles - exactly 100 words, no more no less. The next group consists of 125, 150, 300, 750 word stories, and as far as I know, this group has no title, but it’s a fine market for writers.

Finally, Flash Fiction enters the picture, but even there the 750-1500 word categories cross over. In general, Flash fiction contains 1000 words or less – I guess that means all the other groups are also Flashes. Do you get the picture? These are terrific markets for your shorts and many of the publishers pay professional rates. You won’t earn the “big bucks,” but you’ll be published and build your credits.

Don’t become distracted by the apparent ease of entry. Micro Fiction requires serious thought, focus, and a tight writing style. How do you write Micro Fiction?  

In Part 2, I’ll discuss Micro writing technique, and offer an example of one of my student’s stories (a drabble), and perhaps one of my own shorts.

Part 3 should be fun. I’ll tear, I mean edit, a piece that Frank has donated for review. An exercise in short revisions. I invite you to send your work to me for critique and advice. Stay tuned, and tell Frank you’re interested in this series.

Part 4 will include market listings for your shorts.

I leave you with a micro (32 words) I wrote last week.

New Sun
The brilliant flash from the new sun burned Jane’s face, but she did not feel the shockwave.
Her blind eyes saw not the elegant beauty of the mushroom cloud’s ascent into Heaven.

David Alan Owens is an internationally published writer, teacher, mentor, and editor.


Thank you Dave for your insights!

On a somewhat related tangent, in that cartoons are an excellent example of micro writing, I want to highlight a wonderful cartoonist named Joshua. He has a strip called False Knees. His work tickles my science teacher funny bone and my art teacher's love of beauty. Enjoy. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Urban Fantasies, Female Main Characters, Dragon Soul Press & other musings

11 JUL 19

Working away over here. Editing and expanding several stories, most notable today is an urban fantasy short story I wrote called (for now) The Symbol and the Ring, set in my home town of Los Angeles. Got some great feedback on it. Good pacing, good setting, solid ending. All great to hear. It's my take on urban fantasy, considering I haven't read many stories set in that genre. It's got a little fantasy in it and it's set in an urban setting, so voila! Urban Fantasy!

While I was working on the one hiccup a reader found, I spotted something else that needed fixing as well so I decided to scrub it from beginning to end. As I dove into editing, I remembered how much I liked Carol, the heroine of the story. She, like many Angelenos, is a transplant. She came to L.A. to follow her dream of acting and somewhere along the way she found a passion for police work, specifically crime scene investigation. One of my readers said that Carol felt real to them, not like a male writer trying to write a female character. Very good to hear. Looking forward to writing more stories about her! 

Picture for today: A little love for Dragon Soul Press, an independent publisher founded by a FB friend. Their covers draw you in, and the stories inside fill your heart with wonder. I haven't published anything through them yet, bad timing really. I am focusing more on self-publishing now instead of selling my stories to others. Anyways, take a gander at three of their covers for upcoming anthologies and enjoy. 
Link to their pages: 
Web: https://dragonsoulpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragonsoulpress/

Monday, July 1, 2019


11 JUN 2019

My latest writing project is complete, the summer is in full swing, I now have time for art. Since my cover photo for The Killing Parts came from Belgium, and we have a friend from that wonderful country coming to visit us in the States, it seems only fitting to turn to those photos and share some of them. 

These are from Bruges, Belgium for the most part. 



Also in this post I want to mention a Do it Yourself artificial pancreas expert. Do it Yourself Pancreas. I know many people with diabetes and I think it is amazing that someone is out there giving away the knowledge for free on how to build their own replacement artificial pancreas. Amazing times we live in. Amazing times.