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#WritingCommunity , What’s Your Experience of Reading and Writing Flash Fiction?

By 07/04/2020April 13th, 2020flash fiction
Flash fiction My Chessmen Wear Red

This one, above, is my latest published piece.

About a decade ago, I wrote 26 pieces in April for the A to Z Blogging Challenge  as my introduction into flash fiction. Since then, I’ve been riffing off small pieces off and on, mostly at times when I needed to get back into writing after a fallow period. During the promotions for You Beneath Your Skin, and for a few weeks after, I could not get into novel-writing, so it was back to short pieces again. I submit them best I can, especially now that I’ve vowed to get 150 rejections under my belt. I have 15 so far, so I have a-ways to go.

Flash fiction is by no means easy to write (or read) just because they’re short. It takes all sorts of craft to tell a complete story in a few words: each word must carry its weight, each sentence flow from the last, and each paragraph must span distances or centuries or expanded or compressed moments, depending on what the writer wants to talk about.

Going through a book of flash fiction by Lydia Davis taught me that I had to work much harder on reading each piece than when reading a novel. With each piece you’re in a new world, with new characters, and sometimes very different styles and structures. Hard-to-read novels (I put Evaristo or Saramago’s work in that category) take time to get into, but after you’ve made yourself at home, somewhere around the 15 or 20 per cent mark, things are easier. You know the structure,the language, the people, the place.

The best thing about learning to write flash fiction is that it has taught me to copy edit and line edit like a true fanatic. While this is crucial in flash fiction, it is very useful when writing short stories and also comes in handy when editing novels. I’m an over-writer, so I need all the help I can get to take those extra words and descriptions out!

One of the latest pieces I sent out has been published by Five on the Fifth (you can read in the picture above, or HERE, and that gives me a tiny nudge, a little cheer in the dark covid times.

(Strangely though, what gave me greater joy today was being able to snag a slot on my online grocery delivery app, and an Irish soda cake that I baked after a long hiatus from baking. Not sure what that says about me as a writer, but that’s where I am right now.)

What about you? What has your experience been with reading and writing flash fiction? Want to recommend a flash fiction writer you’ve loved recently?


Blogging in 2020My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world. Author proceeds go to Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks, nonprofits that will need support more than ever.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

I would really appreciate an RT of this Book Tweet.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – sorry taken me ages to get here … but that’s an amazing piece of flash fiction – so clever … so well written – you have the ‘whole’ to create these wonderful stories … just loved it – now I’ll be thinking about your river … brilliant – take care and all the best – Hilary

  • Joy Pixley says:

    I love the idea of having a goal of 150 rejections, that’s wonderful! And so realistic, too. It reminds me of my persona mantra for writing: the road to Yes is paved with No’s.

    I write micro-fiction for online prompt challenges, and I’ve had the same experience you describe. When I only have 150 words to tell a whole story, I have to think very hard about what concepts absolutely need to be included, and fine-tune every word. Since I am also an incorrigable over-writer, this has been incredibly good practice for me!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      All the best with your micro-fictions, Joy. Writing small pieces is great practice for us over-writers!

  • Debdatta says:

    Love reading flash fiction!

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    This is such an amazing piece. Absolutely loved reading it. I know I have said this repeatedly… I am a huge fan of your writing.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks so much for your support over the years, Rajlakshmi. So very grateful.

  • Shalzmojo says:

    I have not tried writing flash fiction as I am an “over writer” too. Far too often I edit all that I write in every thing I write and wonder how else to make it concise and precise. You are so brave to attempt this and the way you are tackling is just amazing Damyanti

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks so much, Shalini. While writing it has to be about engagement in the process, in the world and characters of the story. Editing is where we bring in the obsession with precision :).

  • Damyanti your stories captivate us to the point we live in them and feel and see events as they happen. You are a brilliant writer 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You’ve been one of my kindest and most supportive readers. Thanks so much.

  • I loved your story too!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s very kind of you to say. Hope to see you around often.

  • I too find FF incredibly difficult to write – and to read too!
    Congratulations on your publication. That must have really cheered you up during these dark Covid times.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Padmini. Yes, it was a bit of happiness in the darkness of Covid.

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    That is such a beautiful piece of writing, Damyanti! I haven’t tried my hand at fiction, let alone flash fiction. I’m not sure I have it in me!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Shinjini. You have a beautifully creative soul, and while I deal in words, you paint in colours–we all have our modes of expression.

  • fenlandphil says:

    A nice piece of work. I can’t say I have tried flash fiction but write short stories most months as part of our writing group activity. My novel is a long work in progress fequently interupted.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for the kind words. Haven’t written short stories in a while–can’t do them while writing a novel, and I’m currently working on one. When drafting novels I find it is best to do it at a shot, which helps me get into the world of my story and stay there.

  • Getting in line for grocery queue made me chuckle.
    I’ve never written flash although I have written a few short stories. It is all about watching those words carefully.
    Keep submitting!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, LAex, I submit a bunch each week. My life is all about grocery queues and cooking these days.

  • Vinodini says:

    I tend to overwrite too but since I am aware of it I make a conscious attempt to trim things after I finish writing. I find writing flash fiction quite challenging but enjoy it nevertheless.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Writers seem to fall into two types, taker-outers and putter-inners. You and I seem to be in the former group :). And that’s exactly how I’d put my feelings on flash fiction: challenging but fun.

  • Jacqui Murray says:

    That’s pretty good, Damyanti. 26 pieces during one month–that is impressive. I like my AtoZ less demanding!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Oh, i soon realised what I’d done after doing it twice, and did far less demanding AZs! Have given up on them entirely now, for years–just can’t cope with everything else as well as daily posting.

  • I love your flash! Yours is whose I’d recommend. (I’m an over-writer, myself, so I don’t write much flash, but I love it!) As a fiction reader for Parhelion Literary Magazine, I read some of the flash that comes in. As you say, it is very difficult to create a whole world and fully-constructed story in a flash piece. For that reason, it’s so exciting when we get a good one, because very often they are more vignettes, less stories. I have written a couple very short CNF essays in recent months, one that appeared in Ruminate’s last issue. I never think of myself as an essayist, but the blog is good exercise in that genre. Be safe and well, Damyanti!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Congratulations on the publication in Ruminate–please share the link here, Rebecca. Thanks for your kind words on my writing–I really appreciate them. Stay safe, and keep in touch!

  • I’ve been writing 99 word stories for a while now. I started out by writing for an online literary group who had a challenge every week based on a photo and word challenge. Since then, I’ve been trying to come up with my own challenges. I really like the challenge you mentioned of writing flash fiction from A to Z. Still figuring out how to submit stories to online resources. I’ll get there one day.
    I’ve found that I prefer certain styles over others. I’m not sure I appreciate the poetry writing style as much as maybe I should. I like stories that either have a realistic approach (real life) or are complete fiction but with history included that might, but not necessarily, seem plausible.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for sharing your journey, Patrick. The A to Z is a blogging challenge–I made it a flash fiction challenge more than once, and it taught me how to write flash quickly, almost on demand.

      If you are on facebook and would like to join a group of people regularly writing and submitting their work, let me know, and I’ll add you to the We Embrace Rejections group.

      As to writing styles, we each have our preferences, and all of us make subjective decisions.