Flash Fiction: The Snapshots of Short Stories

The "short" in a short story has a highly varied meaning. While most submissions fall somewhere in the middle, I have read guidelines which accept short stories that are anywhere from 1,200 to 12,000 words long.

Lately, flash fiction--which is significantly shorter--seems to be gaining popularity, particularly on the Internet where readers want a quick story fix.

Flash fiction can also vary in length, but it is commonly less than 500 words. At Helium.com, the guidelines call for stories ranging from just 200 to 400 words!

Thinking Places for Writers

A.A. Milne was onto something when he gave Winnie the Pooh his "thotful spot." A quiet place to think, think, think. But you don't have to visit the Hundred Acre Woods to find your best ideas. You may not even need a quiet place.

For writers, thinking places are personal finds. They may be indoors or outdoors, tranquil or busy, empty or full of other people. They are any place where anxiety washes away and thoughts come more easily.

When deadlines are rapidly approaching, or your brain is overworked, taking a short break in a "thotful spot" can be the best way to get back on track.

Here are some of my favorite thinking places:

1. City streets -- Bustling energy, towering buildings, people going about their day. There's something about being in the presence of other people, without interacting, that sparks my imagination. When I can't get to a city, a coffee shop can be a good substitute.

2. Parks or walking trails -- Birds flying overhead, small animals scurrying across the ground, bees buzzing around flowers and the wind rustling through tree branches. Getting back to nature has a way of simplifying things. Even sitting on the terrace on a sunny day can have a similar effect.

3. My comfy chair -- There's a leather chair next to my desk that is not too big, not too small, and reclines at just the right angle. The leather is soft and cool, while a chenille throw makes it cozy. It's safe and homey and ideal for rainy, drowsy days.

4. The shower -- From the warm water, sleek tile and fresh scents of soap and shampoo, everything about the shower relaxes and invigorates. It's a private place. A safe place. A perfect place for letting your thoughts run free.

Where are your thinking places?