Back before I published my first book, I exercised my writing muscles in a lot of different ways. I loaded my chapters onto a critique website and got feedback from a bunch of random strangers on the internet. In turn, I’d read their stuff and give them feedback. That format taught me how to better take criticism, whether that meant swallowing my pride and killing my darlings, or if it meant disregarding their comments because they were so far from my target audience that I had to filter some of their comments as irrelevant.
It also had the added benefit of teaching me how to give feedback. This is a learned skill. I’ve searched enough for useful beta readers to know that not everyone has that skill. It’s not just about reading it and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. Good feedback only comes when the reader is able to identify that something in the writing isn’t sitting right with them, then identifying WHY that is, and then being able to come up with a possible solution. On top of all of that, they have to have the ability to articulate all of that information to the person whose work they are critiquing.
If I have a beta reader who simply says, “I liked it!” Sure, that’s nice to hear, but it doesn’t help me improve. And any author worth their weight will be constantly trying to improve.
Another way I exercised my writing muscles was to write flash fiction pieces and submit them for contests. The contest I submitted to required that the piece be less than 750 words. That’s not much. Flash fiction is a very different animal from novel writing. You only have a couple pages to tell an entire story, and hopefully get readers invested enough that they care about the characters.
I wrote quite a few of these pieces and they’ve just been sitting in my gee-whiz-what-do-I-do-with-these file since I wrote them years ago.
For those of you who have subscribed to my newsletter, I’ve included one of these flash fiction pieces in today’s email. I hope you enjoy! This is also one of the very few times I’ve tried writing from a man’s perspective. Let me know what you think in the comments!
If you haven’t subscribed, you should! And you’ll get instant access to all my bonus content.
Do you enjoy reading flash fiction pieces or short stories? Or do you prefer to sink into a good long book that takes you on a sweeping adventure?
Weekly Book Highlights
Falling for Love is a brand new release from Jody Holford.
Enchantment, the fifth book in Camille Peters’ The Kingdom Chronicles released last month.