Are We a Story or Are We Just Moments?
A review of Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript
by Michael Loveday
The novella-in-flash is one of those “overnight sensations”, like musicians or Hollywood stars, that have in fact been around and working hard behind the scenes for years. Despite the term “novella-in-flash” being relatively new to everyone’s ears, the form itself has been around for a long time. One of my favourites, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, was first published in 1991 and there are some even older. With the increasing interest in individual flash fictions (very short fictions), and with the greater understanding – or at least acknowledgement – of what they are, these novellas containing a number of linked flashes are becoming more mainstream, and more popular.
As a writer of novellas-in-flash myself, discovering Michael Loveday’s craft guide has been a godsend. Michael is one of the foremost experts in the form, and I have been to several workshops run by him and come away with many new ideas and endless enthusiasm for putting pieces together for a novella-in-flash. Indeed, both of my published novellas-in-flash exist because of ideas and encouragement Michael’s classes and advice have given me.
Unlocking the Novella-in Flash: From Blank Page to Finished Manuscript is the definitive guide to writing your own novella-in-flash. Everything you need is here, and Michael guides you from the moment you have the spark of your idea, through its formation, and to its completion; all the while along the way giving you expert direction and advice. It’s true that the novella-in-flash is a complex beast! There are several different types, or categories of novella, each one of which can be written in any genre or writing style, so the combinations are endless and the only limits are those of your imagination and stamina. Michael breaks down the process in easy-to-follow and motivating steps. He uses published examples to show you how the exercises can look in a finished novella, and he gives you ideas and scenarios that you can weave into your novella’s narrative.
The title of my review is taken from Part Two, Step #16 of the book. It talks about how 'a well-written novella-in-flash forces you to pay attention and to care about small moments.' Small moments; they are the life-blood of a flash fiction writer, something you learn to capture, harness and put to work to make your reader sit up, invest, and be a part of your character’s story, if only for an instant. In this chapter, Michael observes that ‘as human beings, we try to make sense of the jumble of events that constitute our lives.’ This is so true. We all have many thousands of these moments throughout our lives, and many of them pass us by and we ignore them. Flash fiction writers never ignore these moments. They collect them, hide them in drawers, in boxes, in notebooks and computer files. In this craft guide, Michael shows you what you can do with these filed-away scenes and snapshots, but also how to create them from scratch.
Whether you are coming to writing a novella-in-flash with a whole raft of stories and “moments” or sitting down with no idea what you are going to do, following this guide through from beginning to end will ensure you have a first draft at least, and it will probably be quite amazing.
Michael’s novella-in-flash craft guide, Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript, is now available to order from the Ad Hoc Fiction website.