For the Love of a Good Flasher

There’s a lot of chat around the Web about flash fiction: some love it, some loathe it. Those who loathe it appear to feel there is little value in the form: it is too short for decent plot or character development; other creative elements, such as setting and dialogue, are often perfunctory; it is a lazy form of writing, banged out by wannabe writers who don’t have the patience and dexterity to write in a longer form; it’s banal, and often poorly executed. Some of these criticisms, in my opinion, have merit. In the other camp, those who love flash fiction argue that it takes real skill to craft a story out of few words; that the form offers readers the chance to invest, or participate, in t

In the Name of Grammar

Do you consider yourself a good writer? Really? Want to test the veracity of that idea? Okay, here’s a paragraph of prose: In the life of Mr Gerald Short, tragedy was a common occurrence, or so the people sharing his day insisted. Their invocation of the tragic started on the early morning train into the city. The first lament arrived with the man who got on at Lakeside station. He was a natty dresser, who always carried an umbrella, even at the height of summer. His shoes were polished to a high shine and his suits were pressed into sharp creases. Under his arm was a newspaper that, having taken his usual spot two rows down from Gerald, he opened with a fanfare of rustling. The black headli

Writing the Unwriteable?

Here is a question: should a writer create and delve into the lives of characters outside their gendered, sexual, racial, and/or cultural experience? Before you start nodding and thumping your writing desk with privileged conviction, consider how fraught this dilemma is, at least, for us contemporary writers. When so many people have experienced suppression and discrimination, do we have the right to speak/write for them? Once upon a darker time, when imperialism, colonialism, racism, misogyny, religious elitism and white supremacy (sigh, how little the world has changed) were all the rage, writers – who for the most part where white males (or white women necessarily masquerading as white me

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