Flash Fiction: Why Try It

Minolta Dimage 7Hi, digital camera, front left...
Minolta Dimage 7Hi, digital camera, front left with flash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it is because my WIP is so long but I’ve recently become interested in flash fiction. Depending on who you ask, flash fiction usually runs between 300 and 1000 words. Micro fiction is even shorter! I am no good at short stories but maybe I will give flash fiction a try.

  • Plot: One benefit to flash fiction is a quick way to test or encapsulate a story idea. If you can’t think of enough to fill this many words, it probably does not need to be told in 80 to 120 thousand words. On the other hand, if you have3 an idea you can’t use now, a flash fiction piece or three might provide the prompt that you need later when you come back to the idea.

  • Characters: You can test characters you want to use in your WIP by cresting one or more flash fiction stories about them. Use the format to showcase different relationships, roles, flaws, and strengths. Experiment with dialogue and mannerisms, then give test readers finished products to compare.

  • Scenes: Can’t bear to let the material go to waste? Write and polish a flash fiction story! The piece can be offered as supplementary material later on your site.

  • Practice: Dialogue is not the only skill that can be practiced. Setting, mood, voice, fight scenes, suspense, and more can all be practiced. And you can practice the skill of revision – something that people with long first drafts can have trouble with. The small word counts alone almost guarantees that words will need to be cut.

  • Pitch: This might or might not work – I haven’t asked any writer friends yet – but wouldn’t the skills acquired and polished through writing flash fiction help during the submission process? A proposal and pitch should be engaging, touch on the crucial points of the story, and all in as few words as possible.

  • Self-improvement: Why can’t I write short stories? Because I think I can’t – even though I can write poems and long fiction. I have no such barrier erected against flash fiction. By learning to write flash fiction, I can expand my writing horizons and maybe work my way around to the frustrating short story.

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