It’s been a fun (if very, very busy) month: 31 stories in 31 days. Having now finished four rounds of Flash Fiction Month, I’m starting to think less about how my writing changes as the days or weeks go by during each event, and more about how it’s changed as a result of the events as a whole.
Participating in Flash Fiction Month just once requires that you write more stories in that month than you ordinarily would write in the entire rest of the year (unless you’re particularly prolific or tackle something like Flash Fiction Day). Participating in multiple years, you accumulate quite a catalogue of work: my FFM pieces have now reached triple figures, meaning that I’ve actually got more stories now than many of those stories have words.
Producing that volume of work, especially when—let’s face it—you’d often rather not have to sink the time into it, really makes you think about how you tackle each story. Knowing by now that I can reliably complete the event, I often find myself aiming to produce a longer or more polished story than I might if I were just trying to get through one more day of the challenge. Knowing that I’ll be collecting the month’s stories into a book, I sometimes find myself rejecting a sub-par idea even if it means thinking a little longer about how I’ll replace it or how I’ll tackle a fiddly challenge.
On the other hand, I also find that some things become easier as time goes on. Part of that’s because I’ve now developed a range of characters and settings—there’s always room for another appearance by Captain Redundancy and Tautology Boy—but another part is simply that having to spend one month a year writing one story a day really stretches your creative muscles. You develop a knack for starting a story with a bang and wrapping it up as a neat little package (which would be the weirdest Christmas preparation ever), and you end up with more ideas to choose from in the first place. When I very first started tackling Flash Fiction Month, I wondered if I had enough stories in my head to get me through the whole event. Now, having done it a few times, I realise that the more stories you write, the more stories you can write. I’m no more likely to run out of new ideas than the world as a whole is to run out of new books.
That said, between wrapping up my MA course and getting 2015’s stories turned into a book, I’m not likely to be reliably posting work (or updating Beyond the Black Throne) for the next little while. One exception to that is my newsletter, which will be going out once a month with a new story in every one. The next issue goes out August 1st (that is to say today or tomorrow, depending when you get this and what timezone you get it in), so if you’re interested in signing up then do it quick!
The other exception to the no-new-work thing is my latest Twine game, Treasure Hunt, which newsletter subscribers will have seen an entire month ago. This was in addition to the newsletter-only story, as a little extra “thank you” to the folks who subscribed at the very beginning. It’s a very small game, really just a demonstration of some of the new techniques I’ve learned. I’ve got a few ideas in mind for more complete stories and games using similar features, and if nothing else it opens up some new possibilities beyond the standard “read some stuff, click a thing” style of interaction I’ve used for everything so far.
Given that I’ve spent this entire month alternating between tiny stories and my huge MA dissertation, that’s about all the news there is. The absolute last thing I have is to do with the book that this month’s stories will eventually (probably near the end of the year) become. Tradition dictates that its title be the title of one of the stories, and the object on its cover something relevant to that story. The colour scheme dictates that this year’s object be blue. This year, I’m putting it to a poll. There’s no guarantee I’ll go with the winning option, but I will take the results into account and I’d certainly be curious to see what people pick:
If you’ve got a different option in mind, go ahead and stick it in the “other” box. Also, feel free to suggest blue objects to match with your preferred title(s). I’ve got something in mind for all of these, but it’s always good to have options!