What is flash fiction?
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Flash fiction is a short-short story that has no set word count, but it is generally accepted that flash fiction stories are under 1,500 words. Flash fiction is also known as postcard fiction, nano-tales, short-short stories, micro fiction, micro stories, or quick fiction.
Flash fiction stories can be as few as six words, or in the range of 1,500 words before being classified as a short story.
For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
This famous six-word story was credited to Ernest Hemingway, but there is debate about who the actual author is. The story seems to imply the unexpected passing of an infant, or perhaps just someone who bought baby shoes for an infant who outgrew them before they were even worn. It is up to the reader’s imagination to interpret it.
There is other terminology used to describe fictional stories of various word lengths.
- Six-word story: As the name implies this refers to a story six words long.
- Twitterature: Max 280 characters.
- Dribble: Max 50 words.
- Drabble: Max 100 words.
- Sudden Fiction: Max 750 words.
- Flash Fiction: max 1,500 words.
- Short Story: 2,000 – 7,500 words.
- Novelettes: 7,500 – 17,500 words.
- Novellas: 17,500 – 40,000 words.
- Novels: Over 40,000 words.
Flash fiction can be written in any genre and is a creative challenge for any author. Are you ready to accept the flash fiction writing challenge?
How do you write flash fiction?
Have a strong opening to get your reader’s attention quickly.
Flash fiction is more difficult to write because the author has to grab the reader’s attention, hold on to it, and take them on a journey to the conclusion of their story with as few words as possible. Think brevity as you are writing your flash fiction story.
People have short attention spans and will get bored with your story quickly if you don’t intrigue them with your words and give them a reason to continue reading. People want to feel emotion while they are reading, a talented writer can make their readers feel whatever emotion they choose.
Cleverly written titles can set the tone of the emotional state you want your readers to experience.
Don’t skimp on your title, with so few words to use in a flash fiction story, your title is very important as it is the first words your readers will read. They will make their decision about whether or not to read your story based upon your title. Have a strong title, but don’t reveal the ending with it.
The simplest way to write your flash fiction story is to start with the ending. This goes against Stephen King’s novel-writing strategy as a pantser writer. When Stephen writes a novel he has no idea how it will end until it is finished.
Flash fiction is a different style of writing and requires a different strategy. Starting with the end in mind will help you to plan it out better, and get the most bang out of your story using minimal words.
Having a plot isn’t important, but you must tell a story.
Your flash fiction must tell a story, it needs to have a beginning, middle, and a conclusion. The inciting incident or conflict must happen as soon as possible. If the reader is not intrigued by your opening line, your flash fiction story is doomed to fail.
Keep in mind that you are writing a flash fiction story, and not a short story so you can keep it within the maximum word count. Show, don’t tell when you write your story. You want to create imagery with your words, but don’t reveal too many details.
You want as few characters as possible, and minimal events happening in your story. Limit the number of scenes your story has to reduce the number of words you use to complete it.
Don’t focus too much on sticking to a plot, use power words to express your story in a meaningful way. Try to eliminate, or edit out adjectives and adverbs, use stronger nouns, and verbs instead.
Don’t waste words, the purpose of every word in your story should be to get your readers to read the next word. Give your readers just enough information to guide their thinking, help your readers to visualize and let their imaginations fill in the blanks.
If your story ends with an unexpected twist your readers will enjoy reading your story and look forward to reading your next Flash Fiction story.
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