Some books are long and others are filled with pictures. You rhyme in poems and collect many books to complete a series. Just as there are different genres of writing, there are different ways in which to set up those words.
Flash fiction is as it suggests, a quick story. Most people define flash fiction to be between a hundred and a thousand words. In a word document, that is often at max two pages. You’ve written papers for middle school longer than that. Indeed, it is a style of writing that anyone can easily begin without all the scariness, complications, and twists of writing full-length novels. Baby animals are so much cuter than the adults, reason stands to say that tiny stories are cuter still.
As Quick as Lightning
But while flash fiction is enticing, it is a bit harder to write. It is similar to the feeling of Thanksgiving. There is so much food you would like to partake of and gorge yourself on, but you know you cannot eat large servings of everything. It just won’t all fit in your tummy. You have to choose smaller servings of everything, because you still want to taste it all. Perhaps you add a little extra of the cranberry sauces on your plate because it is your favorite. And you know you will have leftovers for days and will be able to enjoy it again soon.
So, like Thanksgiving, we must moderate and choose our words carefully. When a writer starts to really get into a story, you discover surprising backstories, unique world settings, and intensely complicated plots. And once you find that excitement, it is hard to stop. By the time you take a breath and look down at your word count, you realize you are at three thousand words already. And you’ve only written the introduction! Sufficient to say, writing flash is all about cutting things out.
You still have to write your story out fully (or in an outline) to understand what is going on, but once you have the big picture you can edit and refine to hit the key points as quickly as possible. This can be really sad to do when you find lines and dialogue that you really love how they sound, they just don’t push the plot forward. And if the words doesn’t push anything, they aren’t necessary. This is when you have to kill your darlings.
Why would you cut out all of those interesting tidbits just to call your piece of work a flash fiction? Why not just make it into a novel? And while you can lengthen your words to make a book, flash fiction is becoming very popular in today’s world. If you can force yourself to not write too much, you can get a lot of stories down on paper in a very short amount of time. Most of my flash fictions take an hour of my time to finish the first draft. You can easily write one a day while leaving room to edit and work on other things. This can be good practice and be a potential source of income.
The world is all about convenience and availability in technology. There are loads of online magazines, websites, newspapers, and other organizations that pay for flash fiction pieces. As the world moves ever faster, people find they have less and less free time for leisure. Many people won’t pick up a book they know they can’t finish, and flash fiction gives lets them. You can read these stories easily within five minutes which could be during a coffee break or even when sitting down to pee. The demand for flash fiction is likely only going to increase with time.
The best part about writing flash fiction is the exploration. Since you know you won’t be spending weeks on it, you can experiment. Have you ever wondered if you could write a romance or a comedy? How about trying to genre bust or writing in second person? Break all the rules and write a story full of scenery and descriptions. Ignore what people say you can’t do and simply write what you want. You may be surprised at what you discover. And if it sucks, you know you have only wasted a few hours and have learned immensely. Because flash fiction is still a full story full of conflict, deep characters, and astonishing characters.
In short, it is best to write flash fiction by starting in the middle of a story and finishing before things resolve too much. You can try new things out, but focus on what is exciting to you. It will be good practice no matter your life goals. It is something anyone can do, but few can excel at. So why not you?
Photo by Steven Wright