I learned about flash fiction from a writing podcast and felt immediately hooked. To me it’s a way to explore story ideas without a month long commitment. Most of these short stories can be written in just one sitting (excluding rewrite and polishing).
Definition & Scope
A flash fiction or short short story has a hard limit of 1000 words. Or 500, depending on your taste or the publishers guideline. I prefer the 500 words limit, as it is more challenging.
Within those 500 words there must be a beginning to present character, setting, and problem, a middle to worsen the problem, and enough words left to resolve the story’s conflict into a satisfying ending.
The low word count leaves no space for flowery descriptions, let alone subplots, but teaches the writer to concentrate on the most important parts of her story.
Why write Flash Fiction?
The most appealing attribute of flash fiction is its shortness. You must not commit longer than a day to explore the conflict of your story. Play around with those plot bunnies or build cute little stories out of these ideas, that were born from a single brainstorming session.
If you like some of your finished stories, they might even suit to be expanded to a short story, subplot or main plot for a longer work.
For all the writers who can’t get away from their massiv epic fantasy series, even they might find value in exploring the tiny stories of side characters or the main characters past.
The scope of flash fiction even fits into an in-person writing meeting as a live assignment. Or if you want to write a story every week and it is close to midnight, there still might fit a flash fiction into your schedule…
I will recommend two resources I’ve used myself and if possible, I will add to this short list.
There is this podcast Alone in a room with invisible people that introduced me to flash fiction. Holly Lisle has an excellent free course on How to write flash fiction that doesn’t suck wich leads you through the steps of creating a whole collection of flash fiction stories from idea generation to writing and rewriting.
Then there is this YouTube playlist of Brandon Sandersons lectures at BYU in one of which his author friend Mary Robinette Kowal teaches about short stories, using the MICE quotient and also performing a live write-in.
Writing flash fiction is a perfect exercise for every writer. To start, you must generate some story ideas.
Brainstorm iterations of genre and setting, characters, and problems. Both of the resources are very helpful for this.
Go wild with your prompts, explore other genres, unlikeable characters, the unknown side of your favorite fictional world, or the perspective of usually uninteresting objects to feed your creativity.
Please write, if you know further good reads (including videos or podcasts) about flash fiction. I would love to extend my list of resources.
Feel free to tell about that crazy idea you just came up with and can’t wait to build into a flash fiction.