Flash fiction is a medium of brief and enclosed stories. Its average word count ranges anywhere from five to 1,500 words, but the consensus is that the maximum tops out at 2,000. It’s also called Nano tales, micro-stories,
Compact stories are not necessarily a new invention, since modern-day short fiction can be traced all the way back to the concise yet powerful format of classic folklore, fables, and parables.
Key elements of flash fiction
Flash fiction does not rely on traditional plot structure or character development, because each sentence has to do the work of several paragraphs or pages. Every character, object, image, and action reveals something new, so writing with precision and specificity is essential. No room for tangents or long-winded descriptions here!
Flash fiction makes up for its short-form by packing a punch in the storyline. Surprise endings marked by a shocking reveal, moment of triumph, sudden violence, or a twist of fate are common.
Tips for writing flash fiction
Flash fiction can be a good exercise for new writers who want to dip their toe into story writing, and a great way for experienced authors to practice crafting, powerful prose. Some authors may even use flash fiction to help them transition from writing poetry to fiction, or vice versa. Here are some ways to get the most out of your flash fiction:
1. Focus on one moment or scene.
2. Start with the height of the action.
3. Include a hook to grab the reader’s attention, followed by a conflict or turning point.
4. Keep the beginning clear, and save any ambiguity or mystery for the end.
5. Tell a story. There may not be room for a complex plot, but you still need to build action and tension.
6. Use a tone of voice to convey a strong emotion or mood.
7. Simplify dialogue and limit characters (one or two is usually enough).
8. Cut the backstory.
9. Try the first-person point of view.
10. Craft each sentence like you mean it (use precise nouns and verbs, go easy on the adjectives).
11. Avoid clichés and obvious scenarios. Instead, opt for unusual images, sensory language, and original figures of speech.
12. Choose a great title.
Writing flash fiction doesn’t require a big investment in time, so there’s no reason not to try! If your story grows into something larger, check out tips for writing short stories and novellas.
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