Flash Fiction: The Invisible Elements

现代家居玻璃器具(Photo Credit: duitang.com)

Flash fiction often relies heavily on what is left unsaid. Like the glass in this sculpture, the invisible elements accentuate and highlight what is visible.

  • Structure, of course, is invisible. Different story structures accentuate different elements of the story and create different effects – much like in longer fiction. One might think that with the brevityof flash fiction, there wouldn’t be many variations of structure. A quick web searchwill show you that this is not the case.
  • Details ommited can effectively engage and intrigue the reader, forcing her to either imagine or infer the missing elements.When your reader conjures the details, she makes the story uniquely hers. This is an excellent way to build reader raport while saving space on words. The simple scarcity of details will also lend additional force to the details that you do include.
  • Background is typically invisible in flash fiction, either entirely ommitted or simply inferred. This intrigues the curious reader who will, almost certainly, fill in the missing pieces herself. Clues to the inciting incident, too, are built into the story because only certain triggers would cause your characters to act the way they doat the start of the piece.
  • Ending with a cliff-hanger can be seen as an invisible element, since the full outcome iss not spelled out. A good cliff-hanger will prompt the reader to go back over the story, looking for clues that will help her fill in the details of the ending. A great cliff-hanger can cause the story to haunt the reader.

Not only is flash fiction like the solid glass sculpture above, a good flash fiction story is like a ghost: part substance and part invisible, partly knowable but with a past and present and future that can only be guessed at. And thoroughly haunting.

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