Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trying flash fiction

If you're not one of those hardy souls who is trying to write a novel in November as part of National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo), why not try your hand at a shorter work? More specifically, flash fiction?

Flash fiction is another term for short-short stories. Sources differ on the acceptable maximum length, but I typically think of these stories as 1500 words or less. I've written flash fiction pieces that came in at under 100 words.

Before I got serious about novels, I spent years writing short stories, and I believe they taught me a lot about word choice, economy of language, imagery, symbolism, starting where the action starts, and getting to the story's crisis as soon as possible. Even now that I spend more time on novels, I still write the occasional short story as a breather.

If you need a break from longer work, consider these advantages of short stories: They (usually) don't take as long to write or edit as a novel does. You can focus on one plotline and not worry so much about subplots, although you can have layers and hint at multiple motivations for characters. And you can hold the whole story in your head as you edit, which is my favorite aspect!


  1. Flash is what I indulged in to get my writing feet wet in the beginning.

    I still enjoy writing it every now and then. Even join some of the little online contests that pop up every now and then. It's a way to keep the saw sharp. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to test out new styles and ideas, without committing to a fully plotted story.

  2. I had so much fun with the flash fiction challenges I wrote in August and September. Each had to be exactly 200 words, which meant every word had to count. A great learning exercise!

  3. Mieke and Angelina: I think I've seen both of you discussing flash fiction on your blogs. It is fun, isn't it?