1. Give yourself a word count, the smaller the better. Steve Moss, editor of The New York Times and flash fiction pioneer, recommends a word count of 55 words. No more and no less. Try to tell a complete story, a story with a protagonist, a conflict and a resolution. The idea is that once you start to get close to that word limit you’ll find that there are certain parts of your story that you can tell in a more efficient way, or even some parts that you don’t need. As you write more and more of these you’ll find that you’re writing will become tighter and cleaner.
2. Pull out some stories from your favorite authors. Read their opening paragraphs and then try and imitate their style in an opening paragraph of your own. Authors tend to spend a lot of time on their opening paragraphs and as a result it is usually some of their best work. The goal here is to step a bit out of your style comfort zone, and see what it’s like to write like a published author. You may find that your own writing becomes stronger and more engaging.