Whether you are an aspiring writer or seasoned author, there is a great exercise in storytelling which often results in amazing tales: Flash Fiction.

What is flash fiction?

There really is no exact definition or strict guideline for flash fiction because it depends on the market, the publisher, perhaps a website’s call for submissions, and most assuredly, the writer’s muse.

It is a self-contained story, which means it has a beginning, middle, and end, all wrapped up in a small package of tales with fewer than 3,000 all the way down to 99 words. Sometimes these are called short-short stories, microfiction, or postcard fiction.

Flash fiction is not limited to any genre; sci-fi and horror in particular have embraced the short format – just think about the campfire stories you grew up with – but romance, mythology, westerns, and biographical short-shorts are not excluded.

What is Flash Fiction? By Meredith Loughran

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Why writing flash fiction is good for you

Have you tried writing a complete story in 500 words or less? It’s not a lot of space to develop characters, a plot, and resolution. It’s an exercise to challenge your skills as a writer because you must cut away the long-winded descriptors and hook your readers immediately. This takes amazing self-control and hones your editing skills.

Show. Don’t tell. Readers are voyeurs. Give them what they want! Let them eavesdrop on an intimate conversation; transport them into the scene you’re creating. Better yet, give the reader just enough to let their imagination wander. This exercise will definitely help when you venture into more long form writing.

What’s your hook? A flash fiction piece grabs its reader by the lapels and doesn’t let go. It’s a rollercoaster ride, not a cross country vacation.

As short-short as it gets

What is Flash Fiction? By Meredith Loughran

Maybe I’ll coin the term “pinprick story” for the #sixwordstory hashtag trend on Twitter. A notable mention is Ernest Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” It is extreme, complete, and calls upon the imagination. Is it really a story or is it poetry? Let the academics worry about that because I call it challenging and fun.

One more thing to point out: If joining a professional writing association is a goal then selling your short form stories may be your admission ticket. Check out Horror Writers Association as an example.

Now that you know what flash fiction is, I encourage you to write your own.

Go on. You can do it!


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