Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Less is more - Flash Fiction

If you find that microwave popcorn is taking too long or that you are longing for transporter technology to get you home, flash fiction might just be for you.

Flash fiction, sudden fiction, blink fiction, or my favourite smoke fiction are all stories much shorter than traditional short stories. (Smoke fiction = a story that can be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette.) There are differing opinions regarding the proper length of flash fiction - 1000, 750, 500 words.

The challenge of this form of writing is to present a fully formed story in a minimum number of words. It has to have all the elements of a full length short story. There must be a protagonist, action, conflict and resolution. Some writers begin with an idea, write the story and then begin to strip away all that is extraneous. The kernel of the story must be small, but important. Childhood is too big, but playground bullying might be just right. The story tends to leap into the action immediately, not pausing to explain past events or motivation. Images are carefully chosen and powerful. The ending is often a twist and unexpected.

Flash fiction is not a new idea. Writers like Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft have produced these short stories. The Internet and mobile devices have increased the market for this kind of fiction. There are websites and ezines dedicated to flash fiction:

For a new story every day try Flash Fiction Online. The stories go through an editorial process and the authors are paid for their submissions. Ezines like Flash Me Magazine and Smokelong Quarterly publish on a schedule more in line with print magazines, again giving new authors exposure and editorial advice.

Consider also Micro Fiction. This is usually a story under 200 words. One of the most famous examples of micro fiction is by Ernest Hemingway. He was challenged by friends to write a complete story in six words. "For Sale: baby shoes, never used." For this and other six word stories check out SixWords.Net.

If you prefer your fiction in print format we have some collections of Flash Fiction at the library.

Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories
Sudden Fiction International: Sixty Short Short Stories

1 comment:

  1. Calling all writers! I’m launching an online flash fiction anthology. 

    Details? Right here: http://www.rosecitysisters.com/submit.html