Wednesday, 28 March 2012

When Less is More

Can Less be More? I think it can. In short fiction, especially flash fiction, I believe sparse text to be the most effective. Not everyone agrees with me. My peers, whose critiques I find invaluable, sometimes want detail that I don’t consider necessary. Who is right?
I recently submitted a flash fiction piece of 400 words for an online site. It wasn’t accepted but I was pleased and surprised to receive a mini critique from four readers. Two gave my piece the thumbs-up praising my effort while the other two said they didn’t feel there was enough of a story - they wanted back-story, more facts and reasons why the action took place.
Now, it could be that my writing failed miserably in its attempt to say all I wanted it to say, but it could also be that these particular readers didn’t want to use their own imaginations - that they wanted me to do all the work. One reader said she had more questions than answers. I wanted the reader to ask questions and to supply their own answers so I chose not give names or spell out the exact relationship between the two main characters - or even the gender of my protagonist, because that did not matter. A third character is absent - exactly where he now is, is unimportant - but my reader wanted to know. The other reader suggested my last paragraph should come first - to explain what was happening. To me, this would have rendered the whole story utterly pointless.
I’m re-examining my text to decide if I should re-write it, but my question is - did I fail those readers or did they fail me?

I sent it out into the world again. After it was shortlisted in two competitions, it was then placed third in Words With Jam Shorter story competition. I hadn't changed a word. You can read it here see who you agree with. Beneath the Arches

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Books for travelling.

All my travels are accompanied by books. Here are my top 5 fiction books relating to countries I have visited (in alphabetical order).

Afghanistan - The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

Burma - The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

Egypt - The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif

India - A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Sri Lanka - Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne