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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:


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.

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.

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 next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 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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