Where’s Cindy?

In case you missed it last week, Cindy has left the building. (Fun fact: YeahWrite does not have an actual building.) She’s working on some stuff that requires her full attention, so she had to bid us farewell.

Now that I’m back opening the nonfiction grid like in the olden days, I’m going to go right back to basics. When you’re writing flash nonfiction, you need to make sure everything in your piece absolutely, 100% needs to be there. You simply don’t have the word count available to do anything other than tell the one story you’re trying to tell. Here are three common problems in flash nonfiction:

  • Tangents: If you digress, you’ve gone off track. Your story should follow one narrative arc without any asides.
  • Backstory: Too much set up eats up your word allotment. Try sprinkling hints of backstory throughout this piece as needed.
  • Flowery Prose: Be descriptive, but don’t waste your time with every detail. Give the reader what they need and nothing more.

Readers are attracted to flash nonfiction because they want to read quickly paced work that pulls them straight into the thick of things. Don’t clear your throat, just start with the action. Don’t stop to smell the roses along the way, and don’t go off on the wrong path telling a story about roses in the middle of a piece that’s not about roses.

Hopefully these tips didn’t leave you missing Cindy too much. I have a few more hiding up my sleeve which is good, because you’re stuck with me for now!

Nonfiction Know-How:

Journal to Essay

“It’s not a journal entry, it’s a personal essay.” That’s something we say a lot when we’re making edits. Also this: “Your essay needs to be more than a list of events interspersed with your feels.” What’s the difference, really, though? And why does it matter? For this month’s Nonfiction Know-How, we’ll use some of those constructive criticism tips on our own writing, and look at how to go from journal entry to personal essay. The best part? You get to save your darlings. Learn more from Rowan here.

How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:

Basic YeahWrite guidelines: 1000 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction personal essay, creative opinion piece or mostly true story based on actual events.

1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the nonfiction badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.

Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.

Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…

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About the author:

Michelle submitted her first entry to YeahWrite in March 2012 and they haven’t been able to get rid of her since. After nearly 20 years in the insurance/employee benefits industry, she decided to give it all up to pursue writing full time. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post and xoJane, as well as several local sites near her northern NJ home. She blogs at Michelle Longo.

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