The Old Soldier taught composition to undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. Teaching composition for a semester was part of the agreement I made when I accepted my fellowship that paid for my MFA in fiction writing and that gave me a generous stipend to live off of for the entire three years of graduate school.
My students wrote a lot of essays. An essay is full of exposition. Exposition is explanation. It is telling.
The best flash fiction is not telling. It is showing.
What exactly is showing? It is getting your characters inter-acting with each other or among themselves as soon as possible. One of the best ways to do this is through dialogue. Dialogue is action.
Now, there is a place for exposition. Exposition is also summation. Sometimes a writer has to summarize in order to save time; but in a flash fiction story the more summation there is the more the story will read like an essay.
So, exposition (telling, summation) is great for the setup of your story. But keep it short. How short? Very short. Then get into the build up of your story. The more inter-action your characters have in the build up, the better.
Then there is the resolution. Here, too, inter-action should be the rule and not the exception.
Exposition is a very useful tool and can be used anywhere in a flash fiction story. Just remember that the more exposition you use the more your story will read like an essay.
Are you writing flash fiction or are you writing essays?
Spring has sprung in Pittsburgh. It’s a sunny day, the high in the 70s. Hello hello hello, all my brother and sister bloggers, readers, writers, Flash Fiction Fanatics and the students of the University of Pittsburgh.
It’s early in the afternoon and the Old Soldier can’t wait to get outside into this lovely weather. It would be a good day to take my book and movie on tape back to the public library.
The Occupy movement has been mighty quiet lately.
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