Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The News

Atypical Research by Shelly Rae Rich - pubbed in: Flash Fiction Online

Exposition... It's one of those necessary evils in writing fiction. The reader sometimes needs "the news" to understand what's going on. Are the characters in an undersea cave? That detail might be pertinent to the action of the story.

Backstory. If a character has a reaction to a certain smell as a result of a childhood incident, that might be good for a reader to know about. We do sometimes need the news.

However, in flash fiction there is little room for it. Unless your whole flash is somehow expository, if you have taken exposition to such a level that the flash can be said to be virtually about exposition itself, then it has little place.

Ultimately, if a flash has a strong narrative focus, we need strict focus on that narrative. Again, Hemingway's, A Very Short Story, is the best example of this I know. That tale is nothing but story, plot, it's a narrative from tip to tail with any exposition limited to a sentence or two to merely set a scene.

The story, Atypical Research, which served as the prompt for this little rant is comprised of so much exposition as to lose all focus for the reader. It's a nice piece of writing, to be sure, but I'm left with little idea of these characters or what's really going on. At the end, I have a narrator in a love affair with a beautiful and quirky woman. But, there's no real treatment of the emotions the narrator has, only some cursory statements about a research project which is no longer objective.

At the end of the day, I found this piece too unfocused to qualify as flash. It felt like a nice draft for a longer short story where all of this expostion could be developed into something living and breathing.

I give this story one 7-11 burrito, with a Big Gulp chaser.

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