Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flash Tuesdays

March 17 I wrote a 1100 750 word flash.  That's two Tuesdays in a row that I've written a flash.  I finished editing the most recent one tonight and sent it off.
I think writing a flash every Tuesday would be a good habit to get into.  It's an achievable goal, forces me to think lots and lots (sometimes for days in advance) and flexes all those plot and characterization skills that get lazy from writing novels.
What? you say, novelists are lazy plotters and characterizers (is that even a word)?
I can't speak for anyone else, but in a sense I am very lazy in those areas.  Setting too.  I just have to come up with one set and then play there for months, even years.  Coming up with entirely new characters, plots and settings all the time is hard work.  Keeping it tight, short story tight and (eek!) flash tight, is even harder.  That level of creativity is a hard won skill.  And I do mean skill.  Sure, there's talent, inspiration, blah blah blah but learning how to create develops creativity.  Create-ivity can stem from a practiced ability to make stuff up.

So in a sense, I'm not very creative when it comes to plot, setting and characterization.  I can be inventive with individual scenes and what not, but it's easy (for me) to do that within a nicely established framework.  It's harder in the raw, when the idea is brand new and I'm trying to cycle past all my favorite cliche's.

In art, there's a similar problem.  The real master artists (storytellers) sketch often (create short stories often) and create masterworks within that fury of raw energy.  I'm not there yet, though I'm practicing.  I sketch much more often than I used to.  Once I have a sketch (idea) down that I like, the rest of the art (story) follows along naturally.

There are ways around being good at sketching (outlining a fresh idea, whether it's on the page or mentally in the rough).  There are various techniques, like working from a photograph (using familiar tropes or archetypes) or working in the style of a particular master (using other stories/media for inspiration) and so on.  I've done those things, and learned a lot.  I don't have anything against them.  But my goal is to create stuff that has that hot fragrance that feels alive on the page, regardless of what medium I'm working in.  That means breaking away from the defined/comfortable and searching for the familiar within the strange and the strange within the familiar.  That stuff is tough to see.

Practicing those skills means lots of sketching.  And writing flash.  I think I'm getting something right(er), because I'm getting more interest and enthusiasm in my stuff!  Flash Tuesdays are working for me.  Now I just need Sketch Mondays or something like.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

YOu could have flash sketch Monday afternoons....press your children and animals into service. Do you remember the 15-30 sec flash sketches the art instructors used to have you model for? Have your kids do the same (though not as "life" models, IYKWIM)It could help the art skills of the non-modeling child too....

Just a random thought....