How to Write Flash Ficton: 5 Easy Tips to Not Burn Your Bridges

When it comes to writing, behaving badly is a giant no-no.

If you know me, you know that burning things is one of my fortes, mostly effigies of my mortal enemies who just so happen to be Pro-Wrestlers.

All of them.

Burning bridges, though, is a big no-no. Metaphorically speaking. You weirdo.

So what does that mean? It’s quite simple.

Professional Writing Tip #1: Don’t be a jerk.

Writing this article isn’t easy, because I feel that I am preaching to the choir here. I also believe that a vast majority of people are decent. Every once in a while though you get a jerk and if you’ve spent approximately five minutes on the internet you’ve no doubt had the urge to pour acid on your eyeballs and rinse them with salt. If not, hoo boy, you must be a saint or something.

However, in the age of email, Twitter, Facebook and Youporn (mostly Youporn), it’s easy to mess up and post something dismissive or downright hurtful about an editor or a publisher. If that happens, you can own up to it and apologize.

There are instances of this though where people go bananas.

Flash Fiction Online doesn’t have a huge problem with such behavior, but it’s noticeable. Here’s why you don’t behave like a jerk when submitting fiction.

Writing Tip #2: People will remember you

Let’s say you submit a story. It gets rejected. That’s no biggie. You can always submit again. If you format your manuscript properly and follow the submission guidelines each new submission is effectively a clean slate. Attack an editor or slush reader and you can bet that the staff will hear about it. Not only will the staff hear about it, but other editors will too.

The e-zine community is tight knit. Especially so in the SFF field. People contribute to each other’s venues, meet at conventions or workshops, talk over social media – the whole nine yards. Set a precedent by being a jerk and everyone is going to be leery of you.

Recently a submitter called a female team member of FFO (I won’t mention who), and I quote, “menopausal”. That person’s name is now burned into my brain. I wish that person good luck elsewhere with his fiction (no, I really don’t), but I am fairly certain (one hundred percent) that he is not welcome anymore at FFO.

Writing Tip #3: Redemption can be hard to gain

Let’s say I barge into your house and mess up your DVD collection (because I don’t play by the rules, man). You have every right in the world to show me to the door. Next morning, when the mushrooms and alcohol lose their effect, I come over and apologize.

You will be rightfully skeptical because the burden of proof will be on me.

It’s the same situation here. Building trust and displaying your professionalism takes a long time, but getting rid of a crappy reputation? That’s tough because it’s not up to you. It’s up to the people you have hurt. When your poor behavior hurts someone, forgiveness will be doled out at the hurt party’s discretion.

Writing Tip #4: It’s easier to be nice

This might sound like a Sesame Street lesson, but hey, Sesame Street has salient points to make. Bile and anger aren’t good for your health; mental or physical. If you play your cards right you might even make new friends or connections.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t feel disappointed at getting rejected – if your story truly matters to you, of course, rejection is going to sting. The healthy thing to do is getting over it and getting it back into circulation – failing that onto the chopping block.

Writing Tip #5: Remember, always treat others like you want to be treated.

In the meanwhile, I’ve got effigies to burn.


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