A little while ago we held our first ever flash fiction competition. We had hundreds and hundreds of super rad flash fiction pieces, all 500 words or fewer, entered under eight different prompts. (To read all the other pieces head to the Prompts page.)
Come cut-off time, there emerged a clear winner: Peter Gabriel Miranda with his flash fiction piece, My Indonesian Girl! Peter's story fell under the prompt: “A relationship is developing between two people, but they speak a different language.” He managed to get 184 likes, from a total of 675 reads.
We had a little chat with Peter to find out how he started writing, why he loves it and what some of his strategies are for gaining more readers.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 23 years old, and currently reside in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, in the Philippines, where I work as a Customer Service Associate for a BPO company. I am a member/writer of Lapis Sa Kalye (LSK), a literary collective with aims to promote and showcase Filipino literature, by organising poetry nights and distributing mini-magazines. I am currently studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at a California-based university.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for many years already (although, I recently had took a hiatus from writing for about three years and tried my luck in other fields). The funny thing about this is how I started writing, which is thanks to a close friend of mine at the time. I accidentally read a collection of his own poems written in his notebook and I was amazed, which drove me to write my own too. But, my love for writing didn’t stop there. Days later, I also began writing stories. I enjoyed the thrill of doing something that would lead to bigger opportunities - such as being a feature writer of my high school’s English newspaper and being dubbed the 'Campus Poet' of our school. I really think that if I hadn’t accidentally read my friend’s notebook, I wouldn't be here writing.
What's your favourite genre?
Sci-Fi (Science Fiction)! For me, this genre is so challenging - yet it's also a lot of fun to write. Writing Sci-Fi requires extra thought for a writer’s mind. And living in a place where only a few people write Sci-Fi, makes writing in this genre a challenge in itself.
How did you get so many likes on your story? Do you have any strategies that you could share with our authors?
I shared the link to my story on my social media accounts and I also sent private messages to a lot of my friends. While I didn’t expect too many positive responses, I was hoping that some of our conversations would end up with them liking my entry, knowing that a good percentage of my friends on Facebook were into literature. I also asked my close friends to share my story to their own circle of friends, because I believe that the wider the sharing, the more likes you can gain.
A few tips I have for other writers to improve their engagement: First, you should focus on your title. I believe there’s a 90% chance that people will at least click on your story if the title raises some thoughts for them. It doesn't need to be that catchy, but it should at least be something unusual or intriguing. (I think the title of my entry was a big help since it gave people a connection to someone abroad.) Second, it’s the content. I believe that effectiveness in delivery is way better than a good plot (although it would be a plus to have both). Why? Because it’s the thing that holds the readers to your story, your style in narrating or expressing the thoughts shows the strengths of the author; that’s the most apparent element seen and appreciated by the audience.
What is your favourite thing about writing?
Writing opens connections and unlocks new worlds. You will meet new friends with whom you can learn a lot: writing styles, writing perspectives, and ideas and concepts. Also, writing can also be a haven of your emotions; it is where you can express yourself freely and with no limitations.
Who is your favourite author? And what are you reading at the moment?
My favourite author is Bob Ong, the best-selling unknown author of many humorous books in the Philippines. I like how he effectively uses conversational language in his books, while giving the readers scenarios of life they can relate to, or learn lessons from. His imagery and creativity is really that awesome. In his book Ang Paboritong Libro Ni Hudas (The Favourite Book of Judas), he uses a strong literary style to draw readers inside the book, which stays with them even after the last page.
I am currently reading NetGameSaga.ph Stage 01, a digital novel written by ShiningHatsya. It is a virtual reality game fiction, like the anime series Sword Art Online and the .hack// series. The story follows a gamer that's almost given up, but then, after shifting to another game, he rediscovers his enthusiasm again.
What are you going to do with the $500 prize money?
I will use it to pay my school fees for the first term in this academic year, which starts in September. I'll keep the rest as savings.
Thank you again to Tablo for giving me this opportunity to share my story with other authors!
This interview was conducted via email and lightly edited by Laura.