On writing flash fiction

With our fast-paced modern lives, time is often at a premium. Enter the genre of flash fiction. You get the entire introduction, rise of tension, and its resolution in a few lines. It takes less time to read one such work than it takes to wait for service at Starbucks. And you have had your fiction fix for the day.

Facets of flash fiction:

-They are short, really short. It is the genre of the short idea.

-They build up a curiosity or tension within the space of a few lines.

-More often than not there is a surprise waiting at the end.

Here for example, is a piece of flash fiction:

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Waiting for you to wake up

Waking up early in the morning to the strains of music. Walking about the house as sunshine weaves patterns across the hall carpet. Watering the roses, pruning them. Praying. Making breakfast, drinking the morning cuppa. A long walk on the beach, taking in the blue-green sea froth up at the shore, the boats in the distance. Mornings do not get better than this and I am not complaining.

In this perfect picture, there is but one piece missing, somewhere inside my heart. The part where you wake me up.

For sixty-three years I have woken up with your hands on my face. Even when we were not talking to each other, you would whisper your palms against my cheek and wait for my kiss, a routine that had not changed over half a century. We were seldom apart, and even on camping trips when the boys would sleep with me, you would lift the tent flap, come in, wake me up, and leave as quietly as you came.

And now you are not waking up. I wake up beside you each day, since Sunday last, call you, kiss you lightly as I always do, but you don’t stir. Also, the room needs a little airing. It is kind of musty in there, and I cannot draw up the blinds because you cannot stand light when you are sleeping.

I wish you would wake up, you know, it really is kind of lonely. But for now I am letting you be. You have had a hard time this past month, and need your rest.

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Critiques and comments welcome.

Benefits of this genre for a writer:

-Fleeting ideas need not vanish because they don’t fit into a current big picture you are working on.

-It is easy write one piece a day to get the creative juices flowing.

– Building the tension and pace is an important skill for any writer: this skill is fine-tuned in this genre.

-Flash fiction with a word limit helps you learn how to say more with less.

A great version fiction could be twisty flash fiction, which basically consists of short versions of Roald Dahl-like stories.

So, if you just had a great idea but have nowhere to put it, why not write a piece of flash fiction?It could be as long as 300 words, but then it could be as short as 50, and I found some pretty good examples of the 50-word flash fiction genre here.

If you have already been writing flash fiction, you could enter yourself at a contest (Deadline Feb 27, 2008)run here by Jason Evans.

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

6 comments

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  1. DG

    Thanks for your comment, gingatao, and thanks for dropping by. Sorry I haven’t contributed to the orchid room yet. Going through some difficult times. But soon, I am going to post over there….

  2. vonnie

    I liked that! i need to conquer the flash fiction area. I like the development of longer stories, but today’s rushed society likes things snipped and fast. Good skill to have

  3. gingatao

    The art of writing is changing as a result of internet. More and more people are doing most of their reading and writing on the net and as result there are new rules for writers evolving. One of them is that people are all rushed for time. A writer these days must be able to make their point quickly, people won’t take the time to read whole chapters in a blog type setting. Condensation therefore has become a critical skill. Practising Flash Fiction or microfiction is a great way to develop this skill. Do more with fewer words, that is a large part of the art of the internet writer.

  4. DG

    Thanks Bob. I wrote it some time ago, but thought it might serve as an example for the post…I am so glad you like it:)

  5. DrBob

    Oh this is great! I haven’t come across the term “flash fiction” before, but what a great example! It started so bland really then turned touching and left me considerably disturbed!
    I seem to remember a newspaper (think it was the Guardian) running a competition once for 50 word short stories – even flasher than flash!!
    Bob (heroesnotzombies.wordpress.com)