Yep. I said that. But in my defense…I don’t have a defense. I’m childish and immature. Please don’t go around “flashing people”. It’s not fun for anyone involved and you don’t make a good profit (unless you’re possessed of certain physical attributes—and even then, nothing in life is guaranteed.)
*for the record…that’s the first time I’ve spelled ‘guaranteed’ correctly on the first try. I just needed to let every one know, so you’ll understand the kind of writer I am.*
When I say “Flashing” I’m talking about our next topic of discussion which is, of course, Flash Fiction.
If you like the brevity of poetry and quick, hard words that nail emotion to the theoretical wall with brute force, you’ll probably enjoy practicing flash fiction.
Let’s get started with a little introduction.
Ahem, Flash Fiction, these are my beautiful writers *gestures wildly out into the far reaches of the internet* They’re kind, amazing, and talented.
Writers this is Flash Fiction.
Flash fiction sprung up in the 1990s and has become a formidable form of storytelling that appeals to newer generations with ever-shortening attention spans and busy lives. Flash Fiction condenses a tapestry of story into a few short sentences/words/paragraphs. It also serves as a method to condense big ideas into concise writing, especially in terms of reporting (flash non-fiction?) and conveying information.
Ugh, that was dry. Talk about an awkward introduction.
Here are the basics. Flash Fiction is a form of short story that relies on brevity. Specifically, a word count between 1 and 300. If you’re wondering how you can tell a story in under 300 words, or even in under ten, allow me to give you one of the most famous examples:
“For sale, baby shoes, never worn.”
This very simple sentence/story has two commas, one period and a myriad of images that can affect the reader.
Flash Fiction is further divided into micro-fiction, sudden fiction (Wham! Suddenly there was Fiction! Out of nowhere and sudden!), postcard fiction, short story, and the short short story. Believe it or not, there are even sub-categories called drabble which refers to stories that come in at 100 words and dribble that come in at 50 words.
Why Flash Fiction, Sarah?
Well, I’m glad you asked. And…if you didn’t know, that’s what the S in S.E. stands for. The E stands for Enigmatic. Or maybe Exciting. Earnest. Edward. Eggo-(not to be confused with Ego). Who knows? Only my mom and she’d never tell because she’s as loyal as the day is long.
Back on point:
The advantages of Flash Fiction are as follows:
Several websites, literary journals, anthology collections, and magazines are interested in these bite sizes of life.
They are relatively quick to write from an artist’s perspective, which makes them more versatile and easier to explore different genres with.
I personally find flash fiction refreshing to write. For one, when you’re embroiled in a 120,000-word novel, bogged down in outlines and character sheets, plagued with plot holes and flat characters, it feels pretty damn good to step out with a 250-word taster of a completely unrelated character’s flash-in-the-pan dilemma.
Don’t misread. Flash Fiction may have fewer words, but it doesn’t mean that it’s ‘easy’. (She’s fast but she ain’t cheap). Writing more with less is difficult, especially if you’re accustomed to novel length work.
So, to start this little experiment, I’m going to make your first time (or maybe I’m not your first…it’s completely okay, I’m not judging what relationships you had before me) nice and gentle.
Take a current work in progress, a novel you’ve published, a poem you’ve written, and write a flash piece based on the characters or subject in a strange and new situation. Or, maybe six months after the novel ended. Or six months before. Show them in the parking lot with a new baby, or thrown into jail at sixteen, or sunk unexpectedly into a worldwide pandemic (too soon?)
Then…and this is the trick; don’t go on and on.
Think snap shot, not photo album.
One picture will tell us a lot about a person, without needing to see the whole photo album. (have you ever had to sit through someone else’s photo album? No, Sarah, because we’re not three-hundred years old, we have Instagram like normal people…what century are you from?)
Flash fiction is a novel if a novel were poetry. Condensed, potent, memorable.
For sale, baby shoes, never used.
Here’s a little flash piece (a drabble to boot) I submitted that won honorable mention, if you’re looking for an example.
She hadn’t meant to set it on fire, exactly. But now that the heat burgeoned from its windows, charring the leather seats and crackling up through the retrofitted steering wheel, she was glad for the warmth.
It was a shame he’d never get to see the way the flames jumped and swayed in the clear night turning cloudy. It was a shame he’d left it unlocked, parked outside the strip club. A shame he’d said he was at a meeting. What. A. Beautiful. Shame.
She pirouetted against the star-filled sky, and danced along the edges of erupting metal and smoke.
Try it out, have fun, and let me know how it goes. Share or don’t. If you do share and you’d like it featured just make sure you follow my rules against excessive violence/hate speech/rampant eroticism (a little is awesome—too much is…too much) before submitting. I look forward to hearing how it goes!