The Current State of Flash Friday
As some of you may have noticed, there was no Flash Friday published on the 30th of December. This wasn’t because I was recovering from the Christmas festivities and preparing for the New Years ones (I wish!) but it was due to an internal issue I’m currently having with my fiction. Previously when I had these, I just sucked it up and kept writing Flash Friday, but this is a large enough shift in change that I can’t just cover it up and keep going as if nothing is happening.
To begin with, I’ll explain what, exactly, is ‘going wrong’ with my current Flash Friday plan:
- The Flash Friday community is on the decline. I’ve seen writers comment about it, and the owner mention it, and I can see it reflected on my view counts. 2016 was the first year where I failed to pull more views than the previous year. Instead, it garnered very similar views to 2014, leaving 2015 still my best year for reads.
- I’m noticing an internal shift in the way I think up and write stories. When I was just starting out, I was content writing silly stories; parodies, little anecdotes, and observations. I’m beginning to notice, however, that my mindset for writing stores has shifted away from ‘a cute funny idea’ to ‘stories with weight and intrigue to them’. The problem was that I had so many loyal readers who genuinely liked my sillier stories that I felt scared to adapt to my new way of writing stories.
When I first saw that the Flash Friday community was on the decline, I initially felt pretty bad about it; I’m sure anyone else in my position would do, too. But I’ve come to realise that this is a ‘one door closes, another door opens’ situation.
I used to be worried about experimenting with my style, in case I alienated those who liked my silly stories. But now, those people aren’t reading my stories anymore. While definitely saddening to see some great readers and commenters go, it also means that I can start again from square one and turn over a new leaf. I can get rid of the expectation that I’m ‘that writer who writes cute silly stories’ and can now sink my teeth into making stronger, more engaging, more ‘serious’ stories.
So, here’s what to expect from my 2017 Flash Fridays:
- I’m going to be looking for another way to put out Flash Friday. This may be simply linking the stories to more social feeds to get more attention. This may mean reposting the stories on a website where people can read and comment on stories. The idea is, I want to spread my wings farther than just the Flash Friday group.
- The stories will shift away from silly anecdotes and will mostly try to develop really awesome characters, settings, and situations. Ideally, I want to make Flash Friday feel like a snapshot of something larger, rather than a one-off throwaway funny idea.
- The humour will stay! It may be more muted than in past stories, but it’s definitely staying. I’m not jumping into the deep end and writing hard science fiction or grim detective stories. Humour is 80% of why I write stories, and it’s sticking around. Despite this, while my previous stories consisted of thinking of a funny story idea and writing it, my new method will have me thinking of a really interesting story idea and allowing the humour to ‘leak through’ naturally in my writing.
- The stories will maintain an element of imagination about them. This means lots and lots of fantasy and sci-fi, and if the story takes place in the current day, you can be sure there will be vampires, aliens, and wizards about. I love these sort of fantastical elements to stories, and killing it off in my own stories will be near suicidal.
The truth is, this change isn’t something where I woke up this morning and thought “everything must go”. If you look at my past Flash Fridays, you can see stories where this sort of mindset had a ‘breakthrough’ and manifested as a Flash Friday before going back to the more whimsical ideas. I’ve been scared of making the jump to this new style, but given how the audience has dwindled and people aren’t reading my stories as much anymore, who is there to be afraid of?
If you’re interested, here’s a list of past Flash Fridays which, I believe, embody the new style I’m aiming for. You can see by the publication dates that this style has been around for a long time, and just needed an excuse to break out.
Past stories that definitely capture the style I’m adapting towards:
Flash Friday 17/01/2014: Creature Comforts (a really old one, but I still love it!)
Past stories that are similar or very close to the style I’m adapting towards:
If you’re saddened by this change, I’m very sorry. Unfortunately, for the sakes of wanting to continue writing fiction, I need to make these cuts so I can better write what I want to write, and not what I think others expect me to write.
If you’re indifferent (or even excited!) for this change, then I’ll see you later in 2017 with this new style. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to jump back on the Flash Friday bandwagon — perhaps weeks, perhaps months, perhaps it’ll be back to normal this coming Friday — but I definitely won’t be giving up.
Thanks for reading, and happy new year.
“Once you hit rock bottom, that’s where you perfectly stand; That’s your chance of restarting, but restarting the right way.”
― Justin Kanayurak