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October 2nd, 2006, 06:51 PM
I've been doing a little research on what flash fiction is and how to write it. It is rather interesting that every place I look has a different take on how to write flash.

One place said that every word is very important and should be packed with meaning, you should aviod using complete sentences.

What planet...?

Or use allusive references, but you have to make sure everone who might read the story knows what you are alluding to.

Edit out (Actually he used the word "slash" ) every adverb and adjective. "You'll be amazed at how much emotion and description can be conveyed by a story devoid of descriptive words..."

I was impressed with the wikipedia article, here:


note especially the flash fiction story attributed (I have no confirmation at this point) to Ernest Hemingway, six words--great story. According to one source, however, anything under 300 words is micro-fiction. I think that has yet to be agreed on as well. So this story isn't flash, according to them.

Another Realm, an e-zine, publishes flash fiction, in the guidelines they say they've never seen a good story which was less than 500 words. Then they say a good story has a beginning, middle and end, and if you can do that in less than 500 words, they'd like to see it. (A challenge, perhaps.)

There are a lot of other rules and suggestions, most of which actually make sense, but I wanted to know what the good citizens of ssfworld have to say. What is flash fiction? How do you write flash fiction? What do you think?


October 2nd, 2006, 07:25 PM
My understanding, which is quite limited, is that flash fiction are short stories in the 500-2,000 words range. Or that they are no more than 1,000 words. Depends on who you deal with, I suppose.

Juzzza has a terrific flash fiction work entitled "700 Words," which you can look up in the archives. We're still waiting for a magazine to get smart enough to buy it. His is more abstract and satirical; other flash fiction may have more of a specific story to it, just very short.

October 3rd, 2006, 01:25 AM
This reminds me of the "story" Forry Ackerman (world's foremost scifi fan) wrote, which is something like, "The last man on earth sat alone in a room. The door was locked." A publisher I know asked authors to write fiction of 150 words, to printed on paper bookmarks that were going to be handed out at a convention. I don't know what other venue ultra-short fiction would have, except maybe as text messages.

October 3rd, 2006, 02:11 AM
Heh, I run flash fiction contests on another forum. Short short stories, 1000 words maximum. Quick and easy to read and not too much for the forum members to judge. I try to keep it to no more than 2 a month. It's a challange for some of them to write so compactly and it helps them to focus their words, I think.

Want to try one here? An easy topic, one week to write your stories and post them to the Community and give a link in a contest thread so we can find it? I'm thinking ghost stories, 1000 words.

And just in case you're wondering, I don't have a ghost story ready.

John Karnay
October 3rd, 2006, 03:57 AM
I'd be game to contribute to a contest. It would be a nice tie in to my Character Development thread on this site. I think it's a great exercise for any writer. Let's do it.
By the way what is the other site?
Let me know if anyone plans on working on Flash Fiction posts for this thread.

October 3rd, 2006, 04:51 AM
Well, for those who don't know yet, I have a yearly anthology devoted to speculative flash fiction FlashSpec (www.flashspec.com). Volume Two will be open to submissions April 2007.

I too have heard many varying descriptions of flash fiction. Personally, I like short, punchy, plot-driven tales with a kick or twist at the end. :)

Rocket Sheep
October 3rd, 2006, 07:59 AM
There are also flash contests for 50 word stories and the 69ers made famous in that now dead Canandian mag.

"Avoid using complete sentences?" Wot!!?? :confused:

October 3rd, 2006, 08:09 AM
Hey, I happen to have a ghost story primed and ready, but I was planning on sending it to FlashSpec next April. Erebus, if I put it in for the contest, can I still send it to you? (Not that I have any pre-expectations of acceptance).

October 3rd, 2006, 09:31 AM
Erebus, if I put it in for the contest, can I still send it to you?

Our guidelines (http://www.flashspec.equilibriumbooks.com/guidelines.htm) for Volume Two and beyond state that submitted stories can not have been published previously in any format. I guess that's pretty conclusive. What we're seeking is to present a collection of tales that haven't been seen/read before. (Annoyingly, another of the criticisms I received after the release of Volume One was that I had included reprints. Gosh, the flashfic world in Oz can be so bitchy! ;) )

October 3rd, 2006, 07:11 PM
Not to worry, BrianC, you can crank out another winner in a matter of minutes:) . (Okay, in my case it would be a bit longer.)

Ex, a contest, why not? Sounds like fun. I have experience with flash, but not so much with ghost. I'll see what I come up with. Is there any special mention for being shorter?

JDCrane, actually, "...there was a lock on the door." Evidently in an earlier draft the word was "knock", but he shortened it one letter.

69 words? Brevity anyone?

Erebus, I have been thinking about next years submissions, which is why I was looking into the subject. Everone has their own rules, or strategies for writing flash fiction, and it's interesting how many of those rules I break on a regular basis. If one is more concerned about a low word count, and not as much about the pacing of the story, it doesn't turn out as well. And we won't even get into cutting all adjectives and adverbs.

I used to thing flash fiction was a bad thing, indicative of short attention spans and the like. But the editing you do for 300 words, or 500 words is amazingly intense, and the results you can get are immediately obvious.

It's not like flash stories are a dime a dozen. It's not that easy. And there's the six word story I referred to earlier, I wish I'd written that.