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Guest Post: 3 Reasons Why You Should Start Writing Flash Fiction

–by Der Raumdeuter

But what is Flash Fiction?

Flash Fiction is an umbrella term for works of fiction that are of “extreme brevity” shorter than a short story.  You may have heard its other names namely short story, micro fiction, Twitter fiction and short shorts. There are contentions on how long a flash fiction should be. But for James Thomas, the person who coined the term flash fiction, the genre must have a word count of 750 or below. In literary contests and call for submissions, it is on the publisher’s discretion to impose a specific word cap on the piece entries.

Despite its brevity, a flash fiction must tell a complete story and not just narrate an event or series of events. Flash fiction is not an excerpt taken from a short story or a novel, it is on its own a different literary work. Think of it this way; if novels are multi-tiered wedding cakes, and if short stories are your standard-sized birthday cakes, then flash fiction is a cupcake. It is not a slice taken from a wedding cake or a birthday cake, it is a particular creation. It may be small, but it is whole and complete.

The downside of flash fiction, however, is on its main characteristic: brevity. Fitting the literary elements like character, setting and plot in such a short story requires an advanced level and rather unconventional writing. As for the readers, most of them might not appreciate stories and characters covered in ambiguity for flash fiction asks its readers to supply the untold details.

3 Reasons why

1. Flash fiction is overlooked and underdeveloped. You can help popularize it.

Flash Fiction has been around for decades, and yet this is probably the first time you have heard of this genre. This mainly because flash fiction is overlooked in many literature classes and only a few writers busy themselves with its development. Readers seem to be quite uninterested in the genre. And how can you expect movie producers to make a Part 1 and a Part 2 of Vampire Boy Bites Werewolf Girl if it is only 750 words.

You’re a hipster, and flash fiction is not a cliche. Write now before it becomes too cool for you.

2. You can write about a STORY-LESS scene or use a characterless dialogue for a flash fiction piece.

I am lying in my bed, helpless and feverish. My big sis, sweet and caring as ever, helps me up and feeds me slices of oranges. Slices of oranges? The cure for fever are not oranges; it’s grapes. And my sister knows that.

My phone rings.

“Hello. How are you feeling? I’m really sorry I have to leave”

It is my sister. My real sister. On her way to Hong Kong for a business trip.

She smiles at me again as she feed me another slice.

“Ray. Hello? Are you at home? I heard a woman crying.”

This is my flash fiction The Cure for Fever are not Oranges, inspired by my own experience with nightmare-infused delirium (with my REAL sister, yes I have confirmed she did take care of me while the “monsters” were harassing me). This scene cannot fit well in the story I am currently writing, and I am no Stephen King who can write a novel about it. Flash fiction is the perfect platform for me to turn this scene in my mind into writing.

3. We are badly in need of a sense of achievement.

Years have passed and you are still not done with your novel. You’re frustrated, directionless, unsure if you can still call yourself a “writer”. Well, here’s your opportunity.

By writing a flash fiction piece, you can have a finished work you can show to your friends. Or maybe a piece you can show to your religious mother who cannot know you are writing Popular Guy is in Love with Ordinary Girl: A Zombie Apocalypse Romance.

Writing flash fiction can give a sense of achievement. Correction, it already is an achievement. It does not matter if you only wrote a 500-word story. “Brevity is the soul of wit”, Lord Polonius said. It is your creation; you should pat yourself on the back.

Flash fiction is always small, but never insignificant.

Now go and bake your cupcakes!

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