Hazel McHaffie

flash fiction

Brevity

Well, here it is – the most exciting development of the week: my new book cover, designed by Tom Bee. Many many thanks, Tom. I love it.Over-my-Dead-BodyI wanted to end this week’s blog right there, but then thought you might feel mildly short-changed, as Over My Dead Body‘s cover won’t thrill you in the same way it does me. Which led me to think about the whole notion of brevity.

As writers we’re always encouraged to be succinct. My editor’s catchphrase was, ‘I want you to lose X thousand words’. So we spend weeks, months, years even, revising, paring, editing our precious manuscripts, looking at each phrase and sentence to see if it’s earning its keep.

A few literary journals actually invite readers to submit flash fiction; a brief passage which tells a whole story. Some indeed stick in the mind. One I read years ago touched a cord for me: For Sale: Baby bootees. Never worn.

And I heard recently of a Scottish woman in Peterhead, a Mrs Reid, who was newly widowed. She went in to put a short obituary in the local paper and was rather scandalised to find it cost £5 a word. There and then she made her decision: Reid. Deid. Peterheid. ‘That’ll be £35,’ she was told. She remonstrated: ‘You said £5 a word.’ ‘Ah, but there’s a minimum charge of £35.’ Back she went to the drawing board and soon emerged with her revised obituary: Reid. Deid. Peterheid. Volvo for Sale.

Have a fun week. I have great things planned, of which more next time.

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