The Journal: Flash Fiction and Being PC

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Flash Fiction and Shameless Self-Promotion
* A New Font: Polite Type
* Over the past two days
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.” Walt Disney

Flash Fiction and Shameless Self-Promotion

In today’s “Of Interest” section I’m helping advertise a 4-week course on writing flash fiction. I visited the site and it looks like a good course, though I suspect in her definition of “flash fiction” the instructor includes what we used to call the “short short story” (a short story of fewer than 2,000 words).

My own definition of flash fiction is a complete short story written in 99 words or fewer, including the title. Writing one is an excellent way to study the genre and see all the elements (setting, character, conflict and resolution) at work in close proximity.

When I taught flash fiction in live seminars, I likened seeing those elements to watching the interaction of goldfish in a body of water:

* If you write a novel, you’re watching 4 goldfish (the elements of fiction) interact in a sea.

* If you write a novella, you’re watching the 4 goldfish interact in a lake.

* If you write a short story, you’re watching the 4 goldfish interact in a pond or swimming pool.

* But if you write flash fiction, the 4 goldfish are interacting in a clear-glass one-gallon jar. (grin) As you might imagine, it’s not a bad way to learn to write fiction.

So I encourage you to enroll in Ms. Peary’s course if you’re interested.

Or you can buy the Kindle edition of my book, The Art of Writing Flash Fiction, for only $3 at

Or you can buy my audio Course 8: Writing Flash Fiction for only $15 at at

A New Font: Polite Type

Also in “Of Interest” there are two articles about an interactive font called Polite Type.

The font actually “rewrites hurtful words, replacing them with more inclusive ones.” Yep, I’m not kidding. When I first read the post on The Passive Voice, I literally looked up at my calendar to be sure it wasn’t April 1.

Then I looked up the site for the font itself, and I realized I have lived entirely too long.

Now you too can both practice political correctness AND enlist in the booming Cancel Culture by simply downloading and using a font that ensures self-censorship. Free, naturally.

Note that this font guards only against hurtful words, but not really. In a test, I typed in “You go to hell.” It blurred everything after “You.”

Then I typed in “I’m going to kick your ass.” As you might expect, it blurred the last word. (I’m not sure why it didn’t substitute “butt” or “fanny” or “derriere” or something. When I rewrote the sentence with “butt” it was fine.)

On the other hand, “I’m going to murder you” was fine. But when I typed “Hal is going to lynch that negro,” the program changed “negro” to “black person.” So the lynching part apparently is all fine with the font and its creators as long as Hal lynches a “black person.”  Feeling a bit provoked, I typed in “He was out to rape a bitch” and the program changed the final word to “a female dog.” Again, not kidding. Apparently the rape itself, and apparently inter-species breeding, are all right.

And for those “words that have no literal translation, or their meaning is too broad to replace with just one word or their purpose is only that of hurting someone,” the font includes the blur symbol, which replaces the “offensive” word. Again, I’m not [blurred]ing kidding.

Finally, “Once the font is installed, it works both offline and online.” I was unable to learn whether the font also automatically replaces all the other fonts on your computer when it’s installed. It probably doesn’t. That’s probably a feature they’re developing for the future.

But kidding around and sarcasm aside, with all the denotations, connotations and nuances of words in our language, there are very few exact synonyms.

That’s one reason I’ve always advised writers to use a thesaurus only to spur their own thought process and not as a grab-bag of handy words to plug in here and there. The language really doesn’t work that way.

I will continue also to tell writers to dig deep and write exactly what they mean, or as Hemingway put it, “Write the truest sentence you know.” And I will never advise anyone to allow or enable censorship, contextual or otherwise.

Yes, People At The Polite Font, there are times when some absolute jerk says or writes something specifically to hurt (or “offend”) someone, but you know what? People like that won’t download and use this font anyway. At least not until it becomes mandatory. (Oops, more sarcasm. Sorry.)

For an instant I thought about writing a future SF story in which PC has taken over everything, all writers everywhere are subjected to a highly advanced version of Polite Font and —

well, and then I realized there wouldn’t be any writers. There would be word factories (propaganda factories) certainly, probably reminiscent of the vaccuum-tube packed facility featured in the film Farenheit 451. But very few people would even be literate anymore because there would simply be no reason to be literate. Or to communicate, really, especially in writing. Communicating would be too risky. You know, like it’s becoming today.


Over the past two days I finished what is for now, at least, a short story and shipped it off to a few first readers, more to get their reader reaction than for proofing. Someday it might become the introductory chapter for a novel.

Writing the story was more an exercise in deep-diving into the mind of a character than anything else, and despite the subject matter it was a great deal of fun to write.

Talk with you again when I can.

Of Interest

See “Announcing The Flash Fiction Workshop With Ella Peary” at

See “PC Font” at I checked my computer clock to be sure it isn’t April 1.

See “The Polite Type” at Be sure to also read the (obviously staged) Questions and Answers at

See “Name Generator” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1050 words

Writing of “The Worlds” (short story)

Day 1…… 2010 words. Total words to date…… 2010
Day 2…… 3263 words. Total words to date…… 5273 (done)

Total fiction words for the month……… 5273
Total fiction words for the year………… 320556
Total nonfiction words for the month… 5400
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 142970
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 464526

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 12
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 50
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 208
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31