That was sort of why I started this thread in the first place. And it has generated a fascinating debate. Then, too, I had this feeling about short stories, and flash fiction in particular, which I couldn't quite express but which was voiced so well by juzzza:That's what I'm doing, I'm just interested in things people who have already jumped may have learned. They might help, they might not, but I want to hear them all the same.
As to the debate about writing what you want versus what the audience want, surely the answer must lie somewhere in the middle ground?Short stories that I really admire are more like brush strokes than mini complete paintings of stories. I DON'T like the idea that a word count restriction means you are simply cramming the elements of a good story into the parameters. I like it when the writer takes less to create resonance.
Writing only and purely for yourself, and then thinking that it still ought to get published afterwards, sounds to me like the direct path to madness and a cold and lonely room in the ivory tower of "true art." Such art, too insightful for us normal non-gifted mortals to comprehend, has always irritated me to no end. It always remind me of the story of "The Emperors New Clothes."
And while writting to a formula certainly can produce insipid carbon-copy stories without any merit at all, I think it's wrong to insist that any kind of framework will instantly stiffle creativety and force you to write less than your best. Just look at most forms of poetry. That's a rigid framework if there ever was one, dictating sentence length and structure, forcing the author to choose words that follows certain ryhme and rythms. Yet no-one would claim that Homer, Shakespear and Kipling stunted their creativity by writing in verse, would they?
So, some knowledge of the things that people consider the must-have elements of a story can't be all bad. Even if I still insist on writing "brush strokes" rather than "miniatures" some of the time .