Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is Flash Fiction?

Today, instead of posting a flash fiction story, I wanted to talk about what flash fiction is and what are its rules.

Flash fiction is a style of fiction writing which is identified by its brevity. Beyond the agreement that flash fiction is shorter than a short story, there's no consistency on its length. It can be anywhere from 150-200 words to over a thousand, although mostly it's under one thousand.

I like to find my own prompts - whether a picture or an idea that inspires me. However, there are a lot of pre-made prompts on-line that writers can use to inspire their flash fiction. A few of the ones that I like are:

Flash Fiction Net - gives you a list of various sites with all kinds of interesting prompts
Flash Fiction 365 - A list of prompts, as well as links to the flash fiction submissions written using those prompts
Flash Fiction - provides a new prompt every 15 days and also lets you read the submissions

There are not many rules for writing flash fiction. There are a few sub-groups of flash fiction that require an exact amount of words, as well as particular parameters to the story. For example, nanofiction is exactly 55 word and has to contain an understandable plot and at least one character. Drabble has to be exactly 100 words.

Many writers, including myself, prefer to write flash fiction that contains some type of a twist at the end. Since one has only a very short amount of words in which to tell a certain story, as in the art of short story telling, it is imperative to only include action and facts imperative to the essence of the flash.  There's no time to develop characters or do too much of scene setting. You want to keep the readers guessing for the duration of the story about what this is all about. Until you hit them with the punchline - the twist.

Keep in mind that in flash fiction, even the title should have meaning and pack a punch. It should be part of the story.

A few questions:

Have you ever written flash fiction?
Do you like to write flash fiction? Do you find it a useful exercise for your other writing?
What advice would you give to those just starting out in flash fiction writing?
What was your favorite flash fiction prompt?


  1. Never written a flash fiction piece, but yours are pretty darn awesome! :D

    Jeez, ultimate suck-up mode. My favorite piece of flash fiction of yours was the Tango. I do enjoy the little plot twists.

  2. I'm just starting to play around with flash fiction. It's not easy :-)

  3. Becca, awww, thank you. What's up with the suck-up mode? lol I like the Tango one as well.

    Sarah, I agree, it's definitely not easy. I think it's sometimes harder to write something very short over some longer format because there's so little space to do what you need to do to make it good. Good luck with playing around with it, it's also fun! :)

  4. I write flash fiction every other Friday on my blog and I love it. It is a great way to exercise my mind and keep my creativity flowing.

  5. Heather, I love your flash fiction and the moods you create!


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