Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2023

I’m thrilled to announce that my craft guide Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022) has now received recognition in a second international book competition – this time the Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2023, where it has been awarded a Finalist’s medal. As with the Reader Views Awards, the Next Generation Indie Book Awards are a competition for English-language books published by independent presses, open to publications from anywhere in the world.

Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash forms the foundation of my mentoring programme here at As well as providing a comprehensive guide to technical aspects of the novella-in-flash form, the practical Workbook section is full of general fiction exercises to help you understand your characters and settings more fully, figure out the key turning points or the structure for your narrative, and much, much more besides. You can read some of the reviews for the book below. I hope you might be tempted to buy the book here! And maybe you will be tempted to sign up for some mentoring support to help you write a novella-in-flash… I now offer a variety of affordable options for support, including a 3-session “Novella-in-Flash Boost”. You can send an enquiry for mentoring through this link.

“I know good teaching, and folks, this is it.” (Kendall Johnson at MacQueen’s Quinterly, read the full review here)

“[T]his brilliant guide… detailed, informative…I have never been so excited to start a workbook!” (Jonathan Cardew at Bending Genres, read the full review here)

“[V]ery much the printed equivalent of taking a focused MA on the topic of the novella.” (Judy Darley at the SkyLightRain blog, read the full review here)

“My copy is plastered in yellow stickies and I will be continually returning and delving into different sections of this craft guide again and again… think of it as a guide to writing good fiction and developing any narrative form.” (Tracy Fells at The Literary Pig blog, read the full review here)

“[J]am-packed full of knowledge…this book finds that sweet spot where most writers would feel empowered…[A]ll-encompassing, motivational and in-depth.. worth its weight in gold…” (Matt Kendrick, read the full review here)

“There is magic in what Loveday says in his craft book.” (John Brantingham at The Journal of Radical Wonder, read the full review here)

“If you’re a fiction writer you should read this book.” (Sharon Pruchnik, read the full Goodreads review here)

“This book is a classic…a five-star resource that will help thousands of writers produce the best possible version of their creative work” (Lily Andrews, 5-star review at Reader Views, read the full review here)

Reader Views Literary Awards 2023

I’m pleased to announce that my craft guide Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript, published in 2022 by Ad Hoc Fiction, has been announced as a Winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2023 – gaining the Silver Award for Writing/Publishing. This is an international competition for books published by independent presses, with thousands of entrants each year from all over the globe. In the meantime, reviews have been appearing for the book, and you can read some of them here: Reviews and Endorsements. I hope you will be curious to take a look at the book here! And maybe you will be tempted to sign up for some mentoring support to help you write a novella-in-flash… I now offer a variety of affordable options for support, including a 3-session “Novella-in-Flash Boost”! You can send an enquiry for mentoring through this link.

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #12 – Encountering a Local Landmark

This month’s writing prompt is inspired by my recent visit to Sheffield, in the North of England but (as it turns out) only a few hours away from me by train. I was visiting Sheffield Hallam University, which is right in the heart of the city, and I was fortunate to have time to take in some nearby landmarks as well – particularly the well known and excellent Millennium Gallery, which hosts the Ruskin collection and three spaces for art exhibitions, and also Sheffield Cathedral and Graves Gallery (which is a gem of an exhibition space hidden away above the city’s Central Library, currently showcasing many drawings and sculptures by Sheffield-born George Fullard, among other artists). All this started me thinking about landmarks and public spaces…

Writing Prompt – Encountering a Local Landmark

• Take your main character(s) to a notable built landmark (somewhere local to the setting of your novella).

– Are there any rituals, traditions, or aspects of culture or history associated with that place? Might some of these inform the action that happens in the story OR what a character notices in the location?

– Are any parts of the landmark notable for being in a state of renovation, development, or repair? Are any elements of the natural world intermingling with the built environment? Is it a meeting point? Or a place for people to find sanctuary? Or is it a place for passing by/through? Are there any striking visual aspects that inspire, uplift, or create a sense of awe/wonder? Or are there any aspects of the landmark that seem strange, off-kilter, or unsettling?

– What is your main character’s relationship to this landmark? How do they feel about it, how often do they encounter it (and in what context/with what motive), and what does it mean to them personally? How does that compare with the experience of other people who encounter this landmark – is the main character’s relationship to it typical or atypical?

– In this flash fiction, be sure to allow something to happen, something that creates a sense of an event unfolding in time – even if it’s only a very small incident, or an action witnessed.

– Let all this material lead the character towards an insight – about the world, their relationships, or themselves.

The Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #11 – ‘In the Land of Plenty’

The following flash fiction – the superb ‘In the Land of Plenty’, by Jayne Martin – tells the story of a series of repeated actions over the course of one day. A woman who sleeps in mounds of garbage, at a landfill site under a motorway, spends her daytime gleaning scraps of food discarded by people in various situations – at a schoolyard, outside an Applebee’s restaurant, behind a Safeway supermarket.

The story consists of a chain of brief moments narrated as individual vignettes, like a montage of scenes from a short film. At the end of the story, the woman returns to her “refuge under the highway”, where, we have been told, she is not the only hungry, homeless person. She must guard her day’s spoils carefully. And then in the very the final section, the view changes to a more dispassionate, material description of landscape itself – “the procession of garbage trucks” and the gulls overhead.

The poignancy achieved through the writer accumulating these understated and succinct mini-narratives into one flash fiction is heartbreaking. Here’s the story:

After reading Jayne Martin’s flash fiction, adapt any of the following prompts to fit your novella’s storyline. Write a scene/chapter/story that involves:

• A person living/sleeping somewhere other than inside a building.


• A chain of repeated actions over the course of one day, with the recurring action each time happening in a slightly different situation. Let the chain of actions add up to something poignant, through the character’s yearning to repeat the action.


• A flash fiction that features someone’s (unique) relationship to food (or consumption of any other goods or commodities). Let the piece evoke something about how we relate to contemporary capitalism or consumerism.


• A scene taking place under a motorway – where the location is a liminal space for something unsettling or unusual unfolding.


• A story in which, at the start, a character leaves a particular location, then returns to that same location again at the end of the story. In between departure and arrival, let the reader learn new things about the character (to do with their feelings, values, motives, life purposes, or life situation) such that we no longer see them as entirely the same person when they return to that location.


• A story where a character is given, out of compassion or solidarity, something by another person that the person would actually have wanted to keep for themselves.

• If it helps, use any of the following pictures as a way into the material:

Above all, “make it new”!

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #10 – Separation

We’re very grateful at this month to welcome poet and fiction writer Nora Nadjarian as a guest. Nora has this new writing prompt to share with you…

“The prompt is based on my poem ‘Separation’, one of my personal favourites. It was published a number of years ago in the Poetry on the Lake anthology of winning and highly commended poems.


The time came when they longed to return.
My father walked circles in the living room,
my mother packed and unpacked her hands.
We will leave when the rain stops, they said.
The rain in this country is so unkind.

The time came when they could no longer return.
My father sat in his remote corner of silence,
my mother leant into lamplight and threaded sighs.
We will leave when the rain stops, she said,
hummed intricate tunes, sewed invisible tears.


Step One:

First, think of a time you were separated from a place you love and/or people you are close to. Free-write about the impact this separation had on you and the people involved.

Step Two:

Then take one character (or more) from your novella and draft a flash about what would happen if they were unable to return to a place of importance to them (this can be a country, a town, a club, a building, even a house).

Think about consequences:

  • Does the separation have long-term effects?
  • What happens to the characters during this separation?

Finally, see if you can channel some of the feelings, ideas, and sensations from Step One into Step Two.”

Author Biography – Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer from Cyprus. She has been commended or placed in numerous competitions, most recently in the Live Canon International Poetry Competition 2020 and the Mslexia Poetry Competition 2021. Her work was included in Being Human (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), Capitals (Bloomsbury, 2017), Europa 28 (Comma Press, 2020) and Poetry International (2022). She was chosen to represent Cyprus in the Hay Festival’s Europa28: Visions for the Future in 2020. Her short fiction has appeared, among others, in Sand Journal, FRiGG, MoonPark Review, Lunate and was placed in the Reflex Fiction flash competition (2021). In 2022 her story “Doors” was selected by Kathy Fish to be included in the Wigleaf Top 50 Short Fictions of the year.

Twitter: @NoraNadj

Nora Nadjarian

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #9 – Scene Afterwards/Scene Beforehand

Try the following writing prompt (a version of which first appeared in Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022), and then at the National Flash Fiction Day website this summer.)

Set aside some time and space to think laterally and imaginatively about your novella. Plan ahead for this, if necessary, by allocating time in your diary.

Focus your attention upon a favourite chapter from your novella (one that you’ve already written).


(a) Imagine a moment/an action/an event taking place some time after the scene in the original flash, and write a new flash using the same character(s) as a foundation.

You might set the new scene in the same location or situation, but allow some time to have elapsed in between (it’s up to you how much), so it feels like this new flash is beginning afresh in a new moment.


(b) Imagine a moment/an action/an event taking place before the original flash. Again, write a scene using the same character(s) as a foundation, maintaining a time gap between the two pieces.

Across the source flash and the newly generated flash, allow the story/situation to move forward. Let one flash develop the ingredients that are in the other. Explore what’s beyond the margins of the source flash.

Depending on whether the new scene is set before or after, consider:

  • Where must the character(s) have been previously or inevitably go afterwards?
  • Who with?
  • Seeing, doing, and experiencing what?

    Be as specific as possible when answering the above questions.

We might say the resulting pair of scenes creates ‘fragmented continuity’.

If you enjoy this tactic, consider using the process again (creating more ‘beforehand’ scenes or more ‘afterwards’ scenes). Do this as many times as feels right for your material.

Cultivate a list of such ‘beforehand/afterwards scenes’ you could develop. Again, explore beyond the margins of the existing material, or follow up any threads (character, setting, plot situation, etc) you glimpse within it.

Begin some daydreaming…

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #8 – ‘Natalie’

In the following flash fiction – ‘Natalie’, by Tai Dong Huai – a young character tells the reader about someone she knows, effectively giving a summary character portrait of that other person. This friend, Natalie Bilotto, is, according to one adult, “on the road to disaster” – and she is frequently involved in “misadventures”. Her personality seems to provoke and trigger the narrator, yet also seems to intrigue her and provoke curiosity. Here’s the story:

After reading Huai’s flash fiction, adapt any of the following prompts to fit your novella’s storyline. Write a scene/chapter/story that involves:

• A child or young person who has to play with someone they’re a little bit afraid of. Or an adult who has to spend time with someone they’re a little bit afraid of. What is the (surprising/unexpected) outcome?

• Two characters who are friends but not really friends – “frenemies”, if you will. Explore the power dynamics and tension between them.

• A child or young person witnessing a parent/adult who’s a bird-watcher. (Or vice versa – an adult witnessing a youthful bird-watcher.) Let the bird-watcher’s behaviour seem a little strange…

• Some kind of hideout that’s not particularly effective as a hideout. Why has it been created? What are the consequences of the hideout not being effective?

• A narrative where the main events are triggered by any of the following actions. What happens next?
– flushing something unusual down the toilet;
– cutting off someone’s pony-tail;
– throwing stones at something that deserves to be protected;
– maliciously sticking something sharp onto an ordinary household/office/school object;
– boy scouts sitting round a campfire and pretending to “roast their weenies”;
– taking someone (or something) away in a pickup truck;
– a parent (or step-parent, or adoptive parent) sending a child away to get treatment for “adolescent behavioural disorders”;

• Your main character narrating an anecdote (or confiding in the reader) about an unusual person they know – perhaps someone, following Tai Dong Huai’s flash fiction, who is often involved in “misadventures”. Is their behaviour actually all that bad? What might be its underlying motive or cause? What does the relationship between the two people reveal about the main character?

• If it helps, use any of the following pictures as a way into the material:

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Above all, have fun and “make it new”!

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #7 – Picture Prompts: The Alchemy of Image and Word

We’re very grateful at this month to welcome Ali McGrane, author of the remarkable novella The Listening Project, a story of family dynamics and an exploration of hearing loss and its recovery. Its beautifully crafted flash fiction chapters often verge on prose poetry.

Ali has designed this month’s blogpost as an essay exploring how to use visual writing prompts in a novella-in-flash. See the end of the post for Ali’s full bio. Now let’s hear from Ali…

Doorways into other worlds

I used to avoid using visual prompts. It felt like pinning my imagination down. But I soon discovered what a productive and inspiring tool it could be to override my internal censor, free up my creative brain, unearth half-hidden associations, and, best of all, surprise myself. A picture lets you travel in time and space, and see differently.

Bluer Than Blue, published by Fictive Dream, originated from an ekphrastic exercise using The Good Weather Umbrella by John Wilhelm. And I’m currently editing a flash based on a photo of three elderly women which led me to a story I would never have found otherwise. It’s clear that visual prompts can be fantastically creative springboards. I’m sure you know this already!

But how might you use picture prompts specifically for your novella-in-flash? Well, I think this longer form gives you extra opportunity to exploit their potential, particularly in terms of enhancing and enriching character development. Writing a NiF often involves gathering flashes without necessarily knowing in advance how the overall narrative will be structured, or indeed much of the detail. This uncertainty lends itself very well to the use of image prompts as a wonderfully creative strategy for imagining and exploring new territory.

Some key points to consider:

  • An image doesn’t exist in isolation. You’re viewing it through your own individual lens, teasing out unconscious and conscious memories, associations, and assumptions. You can go with those, or interrogate them – either might be fruitful! Don’t be limited by the picture, use it as a spark.
  • Time is frozen in an image. It lets you hover inside the frame – like staring at a magic eye picture when it comes into 3D focus and you can look around in all directions – tricking your brain – almost able to touch what’s there, or see what might be just out of shot.
  • An image might help kickstart or uncover something at any point in the narrative, and you might find it unlocks your story in unexpected ways. Maybe choose something you’d never normally be drawn to. If you’re hooked, follow that trail. If it excites you, it will likely excite your reader!
Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Writing Exercise #1: Find a photo to help create an authentic character.

This can be especially beneficial if you’re struggling to bring someone to life, or they’re a different age, gender, or background from you. For The Listening Project, I found an image to use as Edith, Imogen’s mother, and it was very much a two-way process – finding a photo that fitted what I had in mind, and spinning more of her story from that visual prompt.

Select a photo that seems right for your character, and mesh together the image with what you already know about them. Look at their expression. Listen for their voice. Jot down any thoughts as you imagine the story behind the picture. Write without stopping for five minutes. Let any associations flow, however random, unexpected, or apparently irrelevant.

Let new ideas about this character’s background, personality, or desires, help to shape their trajectory in the story, or inspire a new chapter.

Tip: Use images from particular eras to anchor and enrich your writing. For example, photos from the 1960s helped me see Imogen’s elderly parents as young parents themselves.

Writing Exercise #2: Use an image to take you directly into a setting.

A painting or photo is likely to include elements you’d never have thought up yourself. A brilliant catalyst to invigorate your writing. Placing your character in an unfamiliar or unusual location can provide extra insights into what makes them tick, and spark fresh discoveries across the whole novella. How do they react and why? Don’t forget you don’t have to always like what they do. Let them surprise you!

Tip: Choose an image to take your character into a liminal space where reality might be a little out of kilter, a little out of time. Deserted stairwells, late night bus shelters, abandoned buildings, empty beaches. Have them step into an Edward Hopper painting. Freewrite for five minutes.

Ask questions. What doesn’t quite add up? What jumps out? What lurks in the background? Who or what is missing? Look for connections, but also contradictions, conflict. It can be tricky to develop contradictions in a character without it feeling contrived, leaning into cliché or stereotype. Tapping into unconscious responses to an image can throw up more subtle elements.

The great thing about writing a novella-in-flash is that, although you gather far more material than you need, it’s not too painful to discard some, knowing everything you write helps build this vital hinterland, adding depth and richness to the final cut. Images are a valuable addition to your writerly toolbox, and when every picture paints a thousand words, what have you got to lose?!

Check out these resources:

Read The Ekphrastic Review  for inspiration. Take part in their regular workshops. Also see 7 Ways Visual Art Can Help You Write Better Flash Fiction by editor Lorette C. Luzajic (who would love to see more submissions from flash fiction writers).

Explore Google Arts and Culture, and sources like The UK Photo and Social History Archive, but beware of losing yourself down the rabbit hole!

Ali McGrane

Bio: Ali McGrane lives and writes between the sea and the moor in the south west UK. Her short fiction appears in anthologies and online, including Fictive Dream, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary, and Splonk. Her work has been longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize, shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, and received nominations for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net and Best Microfictions. She is a reader at Fractured Literary. Her Bath-shortlisted novella-in-flash, The Listening Project, published by Ad Hoc Fiction, received a special mention in the 2022 Saboteur Awards. Find her @Ali_McGrane_UK, and at her website:

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here:

Ad Hoc Fiction’s Novella-in-Flash Craft Guide: now available to pre-order!

Forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction in May 2022 is Michael Loveday’s novella-in-flash craft guide, Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript. Now available to pre-order from the Ad Hoc Fiction website. All pre-orders before 17th May save £3.75 on the cover price.

Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022), by Michael Loveday

Advance praise for Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript:

“This is it, writers. This is all you need if you’re even thinking of writing a novella-in-flash. Michael Loveday has written the destined-to-become-a-classic bible on the form. Part craft book, part workbook, part collected resources, Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash is packed with insights, inspiration, examples, and prompts to get you started and assist you every step of the way. A gifted teacher, Loveday anticipates the pitfalls and steers you around them. He provides tangible examples to back up his lessons. He makes the often daunting task of starting a book feel not just doable, but fun.” ~Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works

“An extraordinarily useful resource… Highly recommended for all writers, all teachers of creative writing, and anyone interested in new forms of expression.” ~David Gaffney, author of Out of the Dark and Sawn-Off Tales

“A beautifully written and practical guide for novella-in-flash writers. Michael Loveday effortlessly unlocks the secrets of this ever-evolving form of storytelling that is coming of age in our time.” ~Bambo Soyinka, Professor of Story, Bath Spa University

“Michael Loveday is our foremost champion of the cutting-edge literary form of the novella-in-flash, and in this practical, hands-on guide he takes both the new flash fiction writer, and the seasoned pro, through the process of turning discrete moments of inspiration into a cohesive, coherent whole, while never losing sight of the joy of creativity that should underpin all writing. If you’re a poet wanting to try to write something more substantial, or a prose fiction writer looking to branch out, this book will give you the inspiration and encouragement you need to start experimenting.” ~Rishi Dastidar, author of Saffron Jack and editor of The Craft: A Guide to Making Poetry Happen in the 21st Century

Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash is a handbook, guidebook, reference book, map and compass for anyone thinking of embarking upon writing a novella-in-flash – and indeed those who’ve already written and published one… I guarantee that this book will become a staple in the reading diet of every flash fiction writer.” ~Johanna Robinson, author of Homing

“Writers have been waiting for this book and we didn’t know it…  Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash is destined to join the canon of invaluable books on writing.” ~Pamela Painter, author of Fabrications: New and Selected Stories, and co-author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

Available to pre-order now from the Ad Hoc Fiction website. All pre-orders before 17th May save £3.75 on the cover price.

Novella-in-Flash Writing Prompt #6 – ‘Automatic Writing’

I’m very glad this month to welcome poet and fiction writer Robin Thomas to this blog. Robin is the author of Margot and the Strange Objects (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022), which arrives in the world on 25th March, and here he shares a writing prompt based on his process for that book…

“My forthcoming novella-in-flash Margot and the Strange Objects (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022) had an unusual genesis: a couple of years ago my wife and I were watching an interview with Phillip Pullman in which he mentioned that he wrote, as a matter of course, a certain number of words a day. My wife suggested that I do the same. I thought I would try and settled for 400 words as my target.

“In poetry workshops, the facilitator often asks the attendees to start the day with a piece of automatic writing – the rules are ‘just write, don’t think, write as quickly as you can.’ The purpose of this is twofold – (1) to get the juices flowing, get into the habit of writing, warm the muscles and (2) to get material directly from the unconscious, involving the conscious faculties as little as possible. What you generally find is that about 70% of what you write is nonsense, but the remaining 30% contains useful material. I decided to use this principle, at least to begin with, for my daily 400 words.

Robin Thomas reading from his poetry collection Momentary Turmoil (2019)

“The paragraph below, with a lot of intervening tidying up and smoothing, is in essence as I wrote it on that first day, and became the first paragraph of my novella:

and then unexpectedly, Aunt Edith died. Margot loved her dearly and was grateful to be remembered in the old lady’s will. It wasn’t so much the money, a few hundred pounds, but nearly all the objects that the Aunt had collected in her travels and years of teaching. She had taught The History of Strange Objects at the local comprehensive school and comprehensive indeed was the collection of objects she had left. It was as if, along with the objects themselves, the aunt had left an injunction to continue the journey she had been on all throughout her life. There were sassing forks, nodality meters, spark diminishers, ferret radios, bath-o-pulsars, stoods, mirage flexors, stalling horse rings and many other objects besides. What would Margot do with such a collection?  Where was the space to put them? One thing was certain – she would not part with any of them. While she sat perplexed, turning the solicitor’s letter this way and that in her hands, a small folded note fell out – it was from her aunt! Margot’s heart began to thump and she opened the note with delight. To hear her aunt’s voice even only in written form, and for the last time, made her start, and she looked round, as if her aunt were somewhere in the room. ‘My dearest Margot,’ began the note which went on to speak of their mutual feelings and thanked Margot for being so kind and loving always. That done, the note spelt out some instructions – these followed, the surprising result might be the return of the aunt to life!

“Out of this brain dump came the main theme of a quest, with a young girl as the protagonist. It also led me to the title: ‘Margot and the Strange Objects’ and indicated the tone of what was to follow – broadly comic (the names of the ‘strange objects’ are all fictional and rather jokey), although I didn’t realise this until later.”

Exercise: ‘Automatic Writing’

“Write a certain number of words over seven days using ‘automatic writing’ as above. This means: don’t think, just write, don’t revise, don’t check, don’t censor yourself, trust yourself and above all, write quickly.  I would suggest somewhere between 100 and 500 words daily.  (If you set yourself too high a goal, you might find that you give up.)

“I would also suggest that initially you don’t read on a given day what you wrote on the day before. 

“On day eight review what you have written and see if it either (1) contains suggestive sentences or phrases which send you off in a particular direction or (2) is already looking like something that might suggest a story line. Though a lot of it will probably be nonsense I suspect you will find something there.

“Keep going each day, it will probably tell you when it’s time to stop – it might end up as a novella-in-flash or perhaps a modern War and Peace (remember that Joyce’s plan for Ulysses was originally as a short story to be included in Dubliners!).  

“By ‘keep going’ I mean that you might (1) go on with the ‘automatic writing’ approach after that eighth day, perhaps checking from time to time that you are going in a direction that makes some sense, or you might now switch to (2) a more conventional way forward, making plans, drawing diagrams and so on. If this is to be your approach you will probably want consciously to identify characters and situations that can be developed, perhaps along the following lines…”

How I moved forward from that first day’s writing:

“Margot in the paragraph quoted above seemed already to be involved in a quest to find out more about the ‘strange objects’ and what she ought to do with them. Instinctively, I wanted to write more about this quest. I felt compelled to describe the nature of the ‘strange objects’. My writing hand unconsciously wondered: what kind of person is Margot? Does she want to combine her efforts with those of some others? Who would they be? Would they be cooperative or would they have a mix of approaches (would some have their own ideas about the objects and not want to follow the instructions for example). Would Margot be low level comedy, would it be surreal or absurd, would it become more serious, perhaps ending up as a murder mystery or political satire? I wondered what the instructions might be in the note that fell out of the solicitor’s letter. Would I disclose them now or later or bit by bit? Would there emerge a sub plot or plots, if so I thought about letting them run in parallel with the main plot but engaging with it later on – and in fact, this is what I decided to do.”


“Whichever method of keeping going you adopt, you may well find that something useful develops, one in which you use the conscious and unconscious parts of your mind working together. 

“My motto, at least in the early stages of any writing is ‘don’t overthink’. And one more important point: have fun! This might be the opportunity for you to explore your own sense of humour, of the ridiculous or absurd – the unconscious parts of our brains sometimes seem to have more fun than the conscious parts!”

About the Author:

Robin Thomas completed the MA in Writing Poetry at Kingston University in 2012. He has published poetry books with Eyewear A Fury of Yellow (2016), Cinnamon Press Momentary Turmoil (2018) and A Distant Hum (2021) and Dempsey and Windle Cafferty’s Truck (2021). 

Margot and the Strange Objects (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022) is his first Novella-in-flash. He currently has two more simmering away.

You can pre-order Robin’s book here (with a 25% discount before 25th March):

Margot and the Strange Objects, by Robin Thomas (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2022)

More about Michael Loveday’s Novella-in-Flash mentoring:

You can sign up to this novella-in-flash writing prompt series here: