“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”
-John Jakes

So, not long into working at a flash fiction magazine, I decided I wanted to write a flash fiction story. It’s only fitting, right? So, I wrote the story, Like a Fly on the Wall. It ended up being 985 words. Not bad, right? I posted it at my critique site, received excellent feedback, and incorporated a lot of their changes. That rewrite ended up being 1,000 words even.

I posted the rewritten version, received even more great feedback (and some accolades that the story was headed in the right direction) and I’m currently rewriting it again. Tell me how, with this second rewrite, I’m nearly 400 words over what counts as a flash fiction piece?! How is it that with each rewrite I lengthened the story?

Could it be the development I incorporated? Probably. But that’s something that needs to be there, as my characters’ motivations weren’t shining through in the previous two versions. How does a writer decide whether he wants to keep the story what he initially wanted to write (a flash fiction piece) or let the story run with however many words as it wants? Several of the critiques I received said the story wasn’t too big for flash fiction though, just unfocused. I believe I focused it… and I end up with 1,400 words.

Looks like “Backspace” will be a new friend of mine for a little bit. But if I feel I’m beginning to sacrifice the story for word count, story’s gonna have to triumph.

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