I’m not an expert, but I love flash fiction. Love to read it and love to write it.
As with any story flash has the same three parts.
A beginning. Choose a moment in your character’s life that tells us a lot in a short amount of time. The plot must be simple. A hint of conflict and plot involvement is sometimes all it takes.
A middle. Be concise. Here is where you start cutting. Edit everything out of the story that isn’t vital to moving the story forward. Remove modifiers, such as “very,” “quite,” and “actually.” This is where you must plan every word and cut all “pretty purple” words.
An End. The story needs to be wrapped up in a nice package for the reader. Whether that package is five hundred words or two thousand words. Remember flash has but a hint of the depth within a short story or novel.
The rule to show, rather than tell, is especially important in flash fiction writing because your goal is to maximize the impact of each passage. Paint your characters and action with small, vivid scenes. Mike Resnick says, “Brevity is not just the soul of wit; it is damned hard work.”
Another way is to think of your flash piece as a thirty minute TV sitcom. You have but thirty minutes, make each second count. There is no room for scene building, you must introduce the main character to the reader, where they are, what’s happening and bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion in 1800 seconds.
There is little room for elaborate words, purple prose or run on sentences. The flash fiction piece needs to be concise, tight and as elusive as poetry in story form.
Quite the challenge.
Each ezine, magazine, anthology or contest has different rules and word count. Check and recheck those rules. The rules are important and word count will help you tighten the story.
Read, read, and read some more. Reading flash fiction will enable you to understand the craft. Next, write and submit somewhere to someone. This is the scary part for some of us. I get sweaty palms every time I hit that submit button. But as a friend once said to me, I already have a no. This time I might get a yes.
Then do it all over again, write and submit.
Since I’m no expert, I’ve put together a list of websites to help us all. Please click on the links above and below. Together maybe we can learn and enhance our flash fiction writing at the same time.
“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”~ Pablo Picasso
21st June 2014