is flash fiction?
What is flash fiction??
Mark Twain (or maybe Cicero) apparently said that if he
had had more time, he would have written a shorter
story... With only several thousand words in which to
tell their stories, short fiction is an art form in
which every word counts. There is little room for
anything which doesn't serve the story. A great short
story is like a slap in the face, brief enough to devour
in one sitting, leaving the reader gasping at what can
be done in just a few pages.
Flash fiction refines this even further. Also known as
short shorts, sudden fiction, micro fiction, postcard
fiction, prose poems, these terms refer to stories which
are less than 1000 words long, and often much much
shorter. Every word, every comma, every line break is
crucial in these tiny fictions. While their extreme
brevity allows for a looser definition of the
beginning-middle-end story structure, these are not
"fragments", they are complete unto themselves.
This isn't something new, something invented by the
"Internet generation" to fit onto a tiny cellphone
screen or to suit increasingly hectic lifestyles. Jorge
Luis Borges, Margaret Atwood, Richard Brautigan, Lydia
Davis and Raymond Carver are just some of the "big
names" whose flash fiction is widely available.
Sometimes resembling poetry in the way their language
twists and turns, flash fiction is increasing in
popularity and can be found in literary magazines online
and in print across the world, in many languages. In
China, these tiny fictions are called "smoke-long"
because they can be read in the time it takes to smoke a
of the fictions in my new collection, My Mother Was An Upright
Piano: Fictions, would fit into the category of flash
You can read
some of the stories here.
Half the stories in my first collection, The White Road and Other
Stories would probably also fall into
this category. Read two examples: Plaits
am a Camera.
More on flash fiction:
Flash Fiction Chronicles blog for many articles,
discussions and flash fiction resources, Writing-World's
What?, Writing Flash Fiction on The
few recommendations of short story collections
to whet your appetite
Sudden Fiction and Sudden Fiction (continued)
edited by Robert Shapard, James Thomas. Classic
anthologies of flash fiction.
Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis.
Read the Short Review's review.
by Stefanie Freele. Read The Short Review's review.
Down by Rusty Barnes. Read The Short
Tickets by Jayne Anne Phillips. Read The
Short Review's review.
Over by Roy Kesey. Read The Short
is a Well by Claudia Smith. Read The
Short Review's review.
Half Life of Songs by David Gaffney.
Read The Short Review's review.
selection of literary magazines featuring flash fiction:
The Vestal Review