Comic Fiction and Stories told in Letter Form

Facebook – General

Comic fiction is amongst the hardest things to write, given humour is subjective. My late mother had very wide tastes in books (think H.G. Wells to Dickens to Shakespeare to Jane Austen to Daphne Du Maurier to name a few). Her one blind spot was humorous prose. No time for it at all, though she did have a good sense of humour (and loved Morecambe and Wise amongst others).

Humour doesn’t always work well in text. You sometimes need to be able to read someone’s body language so that you know they are joking. Subtle humour can sometimes be too subtle for the joke to really work. I’ve always found the best humour in fiction has been either through a character that is generally funny in and of themselves or through a funny situation, which is well set up and acted on.

In From Light to Dark and Back Again I’ve tended to use humorous situations and I also like to give my characters a good sense of irony. They may not pick that up but the reader will. Sometimes the best humour is the unconscious kind!

 

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Facebook – General Part 2

What is the point of any short story? To make a specific point and show how the characters reached where they are, and what they are going to do about it. A short story can cover those changes of attitude or incidents, which would suit the form well, but not that of a novel. Less is definitely more in this case!

I have a distrust of padding out a story in any case. You should have enough material to draw on to write a story without any padding. It may be that what might look like a short story idea is really just an incident (you could think of turning it into a flash fiction piece.). Equally think the idea out more, brainstorm, even put the whole thing aside for a bit until you DO have a strong enough idea, you easily have enough material for it.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My favourite form of flash fiction are those stories which leave a definite impact on the reader. Doesn’t have to be a happy ever after kind of story but one where there is a clear resolution to the problem set up at the beginning of the piece.

Of course with flash that impact is very sharp because there isn’t a lot of room in which to deliver it. Yet the impact mustn’t feel forced, must arise naturally out of the situation the story has created, and be appropriate to that tale.

Ernest Hemingway’s famous example of For Sale One Pair Baby Shoes has everything, Your emotional reaction to that story can be one of horror, sadness, or matter of fact acceptance. A lot will depend on your own outlook on life. (It can also be positive – the baby had LOADS of shoes, quickly outgrew them and so didn’t need this pair).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2

Technically a flash fiction piece is anything under 1000 words, though I think anything on the upper limit mark is really a short story. (Just a shorter one than the norm for competitions!).

The advantage of the 500-word and 750-word flash fiction tales is I can go into a little more detail, give a bit more depth into the character but literally about as half as much as I would do for a standard length short story (1500 words).

In Punish the Innocent and You Never Know, I use the longer version of the flash fiction I write to tell the stories in a letter format from the main character. It is one of those areas where I don’t think the main character would write 50 or 75 or 100 words. They would write more. In Punish the Innocent, the main character is a mother writing to her daughter. In You Never Know I don’t name the recipient but it is clear it is someone the main character knows well.

The great advantage of “letter” stories is the way in which they are written tells you so much about the character (and their mood!) when “they wrote it”. You can save on word count here. When a letter writer is irritated by someone, you know at once the recipient has to be someone they know well. You usually write fairly politely to strangers! Well I do…

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