Some Appeals of Flash Fiction

Ocean bottle mermaid(Photo Credit: Ocean Wonderland)

A flash fiction piece is like a mermaid in a bottle. There’s not much space in that bottle. You’ll have to choose carefully what to include and leave out. FF is a popular form for both readers and writers for many reasons, including…

  • Shock value. Flash fiction is known for delivering messages, twists, and scenarios that evoke strong emotions in the reader. Some readers seek out FF for the emotional impact. Writers can enhance any form of communication by learning to deliver an emotional punch.
  • Unanswered questions. Did the mermaid fit through the opening or was the bottle built around her? Why is she there? FF has a habit of leaving some questions unanswered and thus engaging reader curiosity and imagination. Works are enriched by learning to balance the elements of show, tell, and silence.
  • Taste of writer style. Just like this painter has a style, every writer has a unique style. FF can give readers a taste of that writer’s personality, voice, and perception of the reader. A reader who enjoys FF by a certain writer is probably more likely to buy from that writer.
  • Experiment. FF is a chance to experiment with genres, characters, and craft. Skeptical readers and writers can invest comparatively little time on several FF pieces in a genre that has them curious.
  • Time constraints. Flash fiction seems tailor-made for the current age of short attention spans and shorter down time. And for writers, FF offers a chance to test-drive characters, plot ideas, and themes while without investing the resources required by a whole novel.

Not all (maybe not even most) flash fiction is written with a novel in mind. While I think flash fiction makes a great teaser and suppliment for readers, it also stands gloriously on its own. Flash fiction is distinct form with its own strengths and weakneesses. Like the mermaid in the photo, it is limited by its “bottle” – but only in size, not in power.

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