So, flash fiction. What does the term even mean?
And why should writers consider writing the form?
In April 2020, I published my novel, Distorted Perceptions, which turned out to be almost 83k words.
Currently, I’m not working on another novel, but am becoming increasingly interested in short stories. Not all of my short fiction is flash fiction, but much of it is, or comes close – depending upon where we draw the lines, in terms of word count.
Flash fiction is a term used to describe very short stories.
Precise word counts vary, according to different sources. Under 1k words is often quoted, although it isn’t unusual to hear that flash fiction should be under 800 words, or even lower.
Other terms and distinctions are often used to distinguish between different lengths, within the shortest (under 750 words) flash fiction stories. These include: the 6 word story, Twitterature (280 characters or less), microfiction, and sudden fiction. These are not, by any means, the only terms in use, but to explore these, and other variations, further is beyond the scope of this particular post.
I have heard 1.5k words mentioned, as a flash fiction upper limit, and must admit that I myself have often tended to write shorts that are in the 1k to 1.5k word count range.
Sometimes, it is stated that flash fiction must have a clear plot: a beginning, middle, and end.
The term vignette is applied to many slice of life or moment glimpsed type works.
However, there are novels that don’t even have conventional plots, and it’s not easy to draw the line, in many specific instances.
Flash fiction pieces will often conclude with plot twists, but this is not a requirement – simply one popular approach.
Flash fiction – and indeed, short fiction, more generally – is often viewed merely in terms of practice for novel writing.
Certainly, short fiction is an ideal way in which to learn more about the craft of storytelling. Writing it will definitely benefit you as a novelist.
And yet, different forms of writing each have their own unique values. Flash fiction is a fascinating form, in its own right, whether or not you write novels, or aspire to do so.
I initially began to write flash by chance, in that I started to find many of my short stories becoming very short.
My natural tendency does seem to be to write either novels or flash, although I’m developing the art of writing longer short stories. I might attempt to write novella length works in the future, as I sometimes appreciate reading novella length fiction myself.
Flash fiction is definitely an area I’m interested in exploring, both as a writer and a reader.
If you would like to read my flash fiction and short stories, my brief collection, Alternative Landscapes, can be downloaded, free of charge, as can the stories Sports’ Day and Second Chance. Alternative Landscapes is available via Obooko, or through various additional outlets. There is also a paperback version of this collection.