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Show don't tell.

Don't tell us a character was nervous, show us the effect that this nervousness has on their body; the way they behave and the things they say.

Can they feel sweat breaking out on their forehead?  Do they run a hand over their face or suddenly say something unexpectedly harsh?

How would you feel in their situation?  It has to be real to you before you can make it real to your readers.

Make us care

You're asking your readers to give up some of their valuable time – give them something to get their teeth into.

You must have a character that's at least intriguing.  They don't have to be nice but we have to be able to identify with them in some way.  Stir up your readers' emotions and play with their feelings.

And do it straight away.  You need to get us thinking about your character in the first few words.


You need an outline the way a builder needs an architect's plan.  Sure you could carry on without one, but don't be surprised if it all falls down in an ugly mess.

Your plan can be brief, but if you put some work into it, it will reward you later.

Feel free to change your mind as you work – that's fine.

Be precise

Good writing is not about showing off long words, it's about powerful communication.  You don't want your readers to wonder what you're on about and you certainly don't want them to pause.

Cut adjectives back to the absolute minimum.

Avoid adverbs like the plague.  If you need an adverb then your verb probably isn't powerful enough.

Watch the number of verbs you use in a sentence and keep them under control.

Precision is vital in all writing but is doubly important in flash fiction.


Your first draft ought to be awful.  If you think it's great, you're probably fooling yourself.  Take a break from it for a few days, or longer if possible, and then review it.

Will it make sense to your readers?  Will it grip them from the first line?  Will the ending leave them feeling cheated?

Be critical.  Your family and friends probably love it, but that doesn't mean you've finished.

Four or five edits is not unusual at all.  Five or six will be better.

That's it for this post.

Let's get to work.

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