Flash Me!

So, what is flash fiction anyway? To put it simply, flash fiction is just very short fiction, running from as few as 100 words up to 1,000 or even 1,500 words.

This is not to say you can get away with fragmented storytelling. It is not a prose poem, nor an extended paragraph used to set up a punch line, nor an anecdotal slice-of-life. The challenge of flash fiction is to tell a complete story in as few words as possible. It must begin immediately and move quickly toward the end--no long descriptions, no unessential words.

Flash fiction forces the writer to compact the story. Strip away those wordy descriptions and character developments. Define your character by having him do something instead of creating lengthy histories and motivations.

It can be any form, style, or genre. It can be whimsical and entertaining or literary and sublime. It can be controversial or unconventional. It can be troubling, unsettling, or unpredictable. The best stories are often about the human condition, showing it in an insightful way that isn’t always obvious.

The easiest way to write flash fiction is to just tell the story. Throw yourself into your writing and write a story, regardless of the length. Then grab a red pen and have at it. Get rid of every adjective and adverb you can find. Trust me, you’ll be surprised by how much emotion and description can be conveyed without using descriptive words.

Read the story again and ask yourself these questions:

Is there a clear beginning, a strong middle, a definitive ending?
Is the character compelling?
Does the story make its point and drive it home?
Is every word absolutely essential to the story, the language precise and clear?
Does the story have action, not activity?
Does every sentence move the story forward?
Is the ending understandable, whether it’s unexpected or inevitable?

Keep in mind that good flash fiction, like all good writing, should have some point to it, a reason for being. The best flash fiction lingers in the mind long after the story has been read--the way of all great literary works of art.

Places to submit your flash fiction:

Flash Fiction Online
The Drabblecast
Flash Me Magazine
The Vestal Review
Every Day Fiction


graceunderpressure said...

Thanks for the walkthrough, I had no idea. :)

C R Ward said...

You're welcome! Flash fiction can be a lot of fun, and it really helps you learn how to tighten your writing. :-)