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!

While it's no surprise that sustaining the effort to write an entire novel is a difficult task, writing a story in under 400 words presents its own challenges. There is very little room to create characters, add details to the setting and still move the plot along. Yet, successful flash fiction can be very interesting to read.

I tend to think of flash fiction as a sort of snapshot of a short story. There's no time for a complex plotline, but you can write about a small moment which hints at its larger story, letting readers draw their own conclusions. It's similar to seeing the story in an editorial photograph.

Flash fiction is new to me, but I'm enjoying both reading the style and trying my hand at it. Here are my first attempts at flash fiction:

The Clown

Evie was in Venice when she first saw the clown. She was there on a vacation with her two best friends, three days after their college graduation. Four hard years of studying, six months of saving. The decadent trip was a dream they had worked toward together. Evie, Sarah and Adele. (read more...)

The Old Hospital

There was no electricity in the old hospital, yet sunlight, streaming through broken window panes, cast a pale glow over the empty rooms. The building had been condemned, but bold signs ineffectively warned trespassers away. Teenagers arrived at night, leaving beer bottles and cigarettes in their wake, while daytime brought preteens who played hide and seek through the crumbling interior. (read more...)

A Country Mile

"There’s nothing in a country mile," Jack told Evelyn while they shared a bistro table at a tiny sidewalk cafe. The streets were bumper to bumper and pedestrians streamed past in a blur of summer dresses and lightweight suits. (read more...)

Flash fiction is an interesting subset of short story writing. It's a format that fits into a busy reader's lifestyle, and a challenge for writers to make the most of their precious few words.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy the fresh perspective of flash fiction. Both from reading as well as the challenge of writing it.