NOTE: To see the formula image more clearly, open it in a new tab.
A social media buddy of mine named Kevyn Winkless had come up with a handy formula (pictured above) for writing flash fiction, a formula I’ve taken to calling the Kevyn Winkless Master Formula™. I decided to try the formula out and write a story with it — and the speed with which I wrote something satisfying and fast-paced stunned me.
I can think of a few reasons why the Winkless Formula worked so well.
It forced me to focus on the characters. As Professor Awesome pointed out in a blog post called “Why Your Fantasy Novel Sucks,” too many would-be authors focus on worldbuilding so much that they forget about making interesting characters. This is a mistake, since most people empathize with characters when they read a story or watch a TV show/movie. Generally speaking, worldbuilding doesn’t matter much since stories with elaborate worldbuilding (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc.) and stories with much looser worldbuilding (Dragon Ball Z, Harry Potter, etc.) captivate their audiences all the same.
I had to define characters through action. The formula forced me to show and not tell. Since there was no room for long conversations or extended descriptions, I had to get straight to the point and have the character move things forward. Thus, the story felt more full than an equivalent longer piece.
I learned that formulas are not straitjackets. At first, I scoffed at formulas such as this because I believed, without evidence, that they created “boring” fiction. In writing with this formula, I found that the formula, far from restricting me, actually gave me a structure to work with as I crafted the story. The guidelines helped me pace the story properly and move things to a resolution; it supported my story much like a skeleton does a human being or animal.
The Winkless Formula has shown that writing fiction is a craft that can be learned, not some magic power only available to the lucky few; every author, professional or not, should give it a shot. Here is my own entry, Hantei wa No Contest, on the PulpRev website.