I’ve been writing a lot of flash fiction lately. Most of it I’ve shared on the blog, but some of them I’m still working on. And then, of course, are the horrible pieces that will never see the light of day.
I’m doing a summer creative writing class through my college and I’ve been learning a lot about writing better flash fiction! I wanted to share a few tips with you, to help you write your own flash fictions.
Focus on one thing
Flash fiction, by its very nature, is incredibly short (usually less than 1,000 words). There isn’t time to dive into subplots or explore a fantasy world.
When you start writing a flash fiction piece, choose one image or emotion to center your story on. For example, in my piece “This World of Gray” my mental picture was a bombed out city. The only splash of color was a woman in a fairy pink dress. Or in “The Guardian” I had a picture of a statue overgrown with weeds, guarding the path to another realm.
Keep it short
Flash fiction should be like a rollercoaster ride. At Cedar Point, there’s a ride called Millenium Force. As soon as the ride starts, an elevator cable pulls you to the top of the first hill. No clacking, just an incredibly fast climb. Then whoosh, down the hill you go, through tunnels and spiraling turns. And as soon as it starts, it’s over.
That’s what flash fiction needs to do. In just a few words, you have to take your reader through a breathtaking ride, then stop.
Keep it simple
The more detail you try to cram into your flash fiction, the slower it will be.
You, as the author, should know some of the history behind your characters, but most of the time your readers don’t need to know that your main character was orphaned at fifteen and likes sci-fi movies. They just need to know what is going on in the scene in the piece.
One way to view flash fiction is as a scene pulled out of a larger story. It’s a single breakup scene. A car accident. A funeral.
Keep it open
Sometimes, flash fiction ends without a true resolution. You reach the end of the piece and think, “There has to be more!”
You can’t get away with this in a novel (you might be able to pull it off in a short story), because your reader has invested hours of their life into your book. In a flash fiction, they’ve taken maybe ten minutes to read it and they are often expecting a sudden reveal, or twist at the end.
Read lots of it
The best way to learn about flash fiction is to read it! The more you invest yourself in a genre, the better you will learn it.
Here are some places you can find flash fiction to read:
(Note: I’m not endorsing these sites or the content on them. Please use your discernment and caution.)
I hope these fast facts help you start writing some flash fiction of your own!