Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.
So states that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia.
Flash fiction sounds like it is. Short short short stories. Shorter than you might think.
So what do readers get out of flash fiction that they might not get, or don’t get, from short fiction? Flash fiction is fun and much if it is enjoyable to read, because it is so short. There is no time to grow bored with a short short story.
You can read flash fiction on the bus, or while you’re travelling between two train stations. You can read it while you’re waiting at the dentist’s. You can read it in that short time between sex and dozing off. It’s a small involvement for a much larger pay-off.
Flash fiction, in a flash, is big ideas in a short time frame or major moments presented intimately, whereas with short fiction there’s more padding. Flash fiction is often an essence, or a shorthand in literate form. Flash fiction can also lend itself to longer forms, by using the short form in a connected way. Novels in the form of many short stories.
The idea of writing a novel can be daunting … but think of it (and write it) in bite-sized pieces. Plus, those bite-sized pieces might be easier to digest. Link them and then you have a novel, or at least a novella.
I like to divide flash fiction into two main styles: the large story writ small, and the vignette.
The large story writ small moves! It covers a lot of ground in a very short space. A lot of action in just a few sentences. The vignette is really more a scene, usually illustrating a larger point but more intimately.
And in flash fiction, every word counts! There is little time and no space for flubber.
Annoucing the Lit Bulb Festival. The inaugural Lit Bulb Festival is supported by the SA Writers Centre and Pure Slush and it’s a celebration of flash fiction in its many forms. Most importantly, Lit Bulb will be a celebration of writing. You can find the Lit Bulb site here.
Matt Potter is founder/editor/publisher of Pure Slush, Pure Slush Books, Truth Serum Press, Anonymous Book Review and Lit Bulb. Adelaide-born and bred, he still lives in Adelaide but keeps part of his psyche in Berlin. Matt has been nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll’s Best Magazine/ e-zine Editor, and has been published in many places online. His books Based on True Stories, and Hamburgers and Berliners and other courses in between,will be published in 2015.