Free Topic Friday – Flash Fiction

Free Topic Friday is just that – a day that we are free to discuss any writing topic. From How-Tos, to writing advice, publishing, journaling, blogging, anything! This will be a weekly blogpost just like our Motivation Mondays and Write About It Wednesdays.

Our first topic for Free Topic Friday is: Flash Fiction.

Unless you are a writer who has dabbled in Flash Fiction yourself or you have stumbled upon Flash Fiction blogs or in literary magazines it is likely that you are unaware of this  “sub-genre” of short stories. When I was in school and college I was only aware of “Short Stories,” “Novels,” or “Poems.” Flash Fiction was not something that we were taught. I only learned about Flash Fiction from some of my friends in a writing group who were blogging Flash Fiction.

So, What is Flash Fiction?

Have you ever had a fleeting moment of inspiration? A brief story that you see in your head – a quick scene that fills you with inspiration, but you can’t see how it would fit into one of your works-in-progress or how it could be made into a full length short story or novel? Don’t blow it off just because you can’t see it being a longer story. This is inspiration for Flash Fiction.

Flash Fiction takes a snapshot of a longer story – a simple moment in time. Flash Fiction, as the name implies, is short. Short, short, short. It’s sometimes called short-short stories for that reason. It is an extremely brief story that still provides both character and plot development. A piece of Flash Fiction is created in approximately 1,000 words or less. But one of the most interesting aspects of Flash Fiction is its ability to both provide a complete story while hinting at a much larger story. Flash Fiction can then be broken down into varieties that are mainly defined by their word count.

Various types of Flash Fiction include:

the six-word story

the 140-character story or “twitterature

the “dribble” (50 words)

the “drabble” or 100 word “microfiction”

“sudden fiction” (750 words)

Nanotale

“micro-story”

So why is Flash Fiction something that you should be aware of as a writer? And why should you be writing it?

Flash Fiction Provides A Challenge.

To write Flash Fiction you must be concise. Have you ever tried to write a story in under 1,000 words? It is hard! Creating a well-defined plot and cast of characters for a full story with a beginning that’s catchy enough to entice your readers and a satisfying end seems nearly impossible with so few words. But it’s not. It just requires practice, just like every other art or talent.

Even if Flash Fiction isn’t what you are passionate about writing, writing it helps you get into the habit of being brief in the best way possible. Knowing how to be disciplined with your words and say more with less is an essential skill for every writer.

Many times, when writing novels, writers will have to cut back their stories because the word count is too long and the prose too flowery. Writing Flash Fiction will challenge you to tell a full, interesting story without flowery prose, unnecessary characters, and everything else that novel writers are used to including in their work. Every word in a Flash Fiction piece must count; writing it teaches you how to write tight and clear.

Challenge yourself by writing Flash Fiction.

Flash Fiction Is A Quick Write.

It is incredibly satisfying to rise from your desk or workspace knowing you’ve written something from beginning to end in one sitting. Compared to the exhausting nature of writing a novel which can take years to complete.

That’s one of the best things about flash fiction, it is so quick to write! It can easily be done in a day, even for the slowest of writers. Because it is so quick to write, flash fiction can help you maintain your daily writing habit even when life gets in the way and your writing time is too short to really delve into something long and intricate.

And, because these stories are so short that they can be written fast, you can quickly build up a large portfolio of Flash Fiction to submit to journals and magazines or post on your blog. Which leads to the next point.

Flash Fiction Is Very “Submittable”.

If you get into the habit of writing Flash Fiction regularly, you will quickly create a large collection of stories. What can you do with all of these stories once you’ve finished writing them? After some editing, you’ll find that there are tons of ways to share your work. Google some writing contests, post them to your blog, self-publish an anthology of your best Flash Fiction pieces, or find magazines/journals willing to publish them.

Flash Fiction Is Great Practice.

Even if you choose not to share your stories, it’s always good to have a collection of your work available for you to look back on. When we first started out as writers, (how ever long ago that might have been) we wrote stories that we look back on and cringe. But, those stories were important. We needed to write them. If those stories hadn’t been written, we would never have improved. We would never have gained experience. Every piece that we write is practice that helps us to improve for the next thing that we write. The more that we write, the more that we improve, which is why writing Flash Fiction is both a useful and productive exercise for writers.

But it’s not just the action of writing. We can pull a Jack Torrance from The Shining and write “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” a thousand times a day, but it won’t improve our writing.

You need to focus on different aspects of writing and the writing process that create the stories that you are trying to tell. Writing Flash Fiction gives you the chance to focus your attention and polish the devices of a story that we tend to overlook. When writing Flash Fiction, you only extract one moment and make it come to life. This can be a great building practice for your longer works.

Another upside to writing Flash Fiction is that it offers you many opportunities to develop various aspects of your writing style. You can practice the elements of surprise and suspense within your story. Or you can try out humor or romance if they are not something that you usually include in your longer pieces. Work on different themes and motifs that you aren’t as comfortable with.

Because Flash Fiction pieces are written so quickly, they also provide you with the opportunity to practice your editing, polishing, and revision skills. You can polish a Flash Fiction piece more easily than a longer one, and learn some things about revision in the process.

Flash Fiction Will Build Your Audience

If you choose to write Flash Fiction and post the stories on your blog, you will gain followers and build an audience.

Having an audience is an important thing for writers, for obvious reasons. Whether you are a seasoned and published author or a writer just starting out, you want to gain more followers who become members of your audience and readers of the work that you publish.

Gaining an audience with your Flash Fiction works really well for writers who are just starting out, because if you can gain a loyal audience and following on your Flash Fiction blog, they will undoubtedly become people who will be interested in the work that you eventually publish.

An audience on blogs and social media is one of the things that publishers and agents look for when they are considering that market value of new writers.

Flash Fiction Will Build Your Confidence

If you’re a writer who is just starting out it can be intimidating to share your work with others, especially work that is near and dear to your heart.

Flash Fiction is less likely to be as important to you as the novel that you have been writing and polishing for half of your life.

Write Flash Fiction and share it with others to build your confidence and dip your toe in the water when it comes to sharing your work with strangers.

Sharing Flash Fiction will help you get over the fear of having people read your work and receiving feedback.

Do you write Flash Fiction?

Tell us about your experience with Flash Fiction in the comments.

We will see you on Monday for Motivation Monday!

Write On, Writers!

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