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…