Being only five foot tall, I’ve always sworn by the expression that good things come in small packages. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to writing flash fiction. For anyone who hasn’t come across the term ‘flash fiction’ before, it doesn’t refer to a story about a comic book superhero but is fiction which aims to prove that it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts.
Flash fiction is normally between 300-1000 words long and has become increasingly popular for various reasons. In this modern, digitized world the gap between readers and those who can’t allow time for such a luxury continues to grow. Someone who believes they cannot read for pleasure is unlikely to pick up a full length novel. But what they can do, however, is click on a link offered by a friend, or website. This is why flash fiction, one of the most ancient forms of prose, has found new life in the digital era.
I’ve been dabbling in flash fiction recently to try to master the art of doing a lot with a little. The uni assignment I’ve been working on this week was to write 4000 words of an A to Z on any topic in sections of around 153 words each. The challenge was to examine different facets of a subject and my relationship to it. I chose to write about my childhood and treated the exercise as 26 pieces of flash fiction. Out of all the assignments so far for the MLitt, this has got to be my favourite.
An example of my flash fiction is published on the Paragraph Planet website. The idea behind the website is to write a short piece exactly 75 words long including the title. It might be a moment captured, it could be an intriguing section of a novel in progress, or it might be a short, short story. I submitted a piece called, ‘Roadkill’ and you can read it here (7th of April entry in the archive).
I think flash fiction’s low word count is a great way to improve my writing by making me think about the importance of every word in a story. It also gives me the freedom to experiment without the commitment of a large project. Let me know if you’re a lover of flash fiction as a writer or a reader.
P.S. In the spirit of flash fiction, this is my shortest blog post yet!