the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

What is flash fiction?

on February 5, 2013

A friend recently left a comment on my blog, asking for a definition of flash fiction.  While I flippantly said it’s fiction usually written in less an 500 words, it did occur to me that further elaboration may be appropriate.  So, although there isn’t an agreed definition, I hope you get the flavour of flash fiction from the following.

Flash fiction provides a window into the experiences of others, short enough to digest in one sitting.  Frenetic lifestyles make short fiction relevant and accessible. It offers bite-size pieces of fiction that are satisfying and a relief from the grind of everyday life. The length of the work is short, anything up to 500 words (or 1000 words in USA) constitutes flash fiction.

Frequently written in one go, flash fiction can be completed from start to finish in one sitting, allowing the writing to burst with energy.  Prompts such as images, single words, or a line of poetry may stimulate the writing. Others suggest that flash fiction is a distilled version of a longer story and includes all the necessary parts such as characters, plot, dialogue and theme but these are presented by suggestion rather than written in detail. The chinks in the writing leave room for the reader’s imagination.

Sitting alongside short stories and novels flash fiction does not attempt to replace them. The brevity of flash fiction is one of its charms and because it can be drafted within a short timescale, it’s a useful tool for honing writing skills.

Do you agree? Please leave a comment!

4 responses to “What is flash fiction?

  1. Cathy Randall says:

    Thanks Gail – very useful definition. Now I’ll go and write some!

  2. Pauline Howard says:

    I think this is an excellent definition Gail. I’ve read others on the web and they are either evasive and/or trite, leaving me with no clear idea.
    I feel I can have a go now – thanks.

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