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1 December 2012

Why Flash Fiction?

What is Flash Fiction?
Flash Fiction has been around for years and is becoming increasingly prevalent in today's literary community. Flash is also know by various other names including: Micro Fiction, Postcard Fiction and Sudden Fiction. Whatever you call it, it is basically a story with extreme brevity. There is no standard length for this sort of writing, but when it comes to competitions 300 - 500 words is fast becoming the norm.

The challenge is to strip away the frills and be left with the hard core of the story. But don't be fooled. Just because a piece flash may only contain a few words this doesn't make it any-the-less beautifully artistic.In fact, the opposite can true; the simplicity of a piece who's words have been carefully chosen and crafted can be beautiful and inspiring.

Why Write Flash Fiction?
There are many reasons that you might like to write flash fiction. Writing a normal short story (1000 -5000 words) can take days, if not weeks to complete. An 80,000 word novel will be months and months of hard slog just to get a first draft. But with Flash Fiction the end result can be there in hours. Within a short space of time you can create, write, edit and finished a complete story. This fact alone can be quite confidence building and give you almost instant gratification.

Take a Break
You may be dead set on writing and completing your novel but when writers block strikes - and it will - take a break. 'A Change can be as good as a rest', that's the saying... and it's true. You may want to take your main character and thrust them into a new situation. You may have an idea that can't be used in your novel, take it and turn it into a piece of flash fiction. A very short story may just spark idea's for that block-buster novel you're working on.

Trying New Genre's and Styles
Flash Fiction is a great way to try out your writing skills with different genres. You may be writer of crime at heart, and trying to write a piece of science fiction or fantasy in a longer form may cause problems. Setting yourself  a target - 300 words is my favorite - will allow you the opportunity to try out new styles and genres without using masses of time.

It's a Great Exercise
Writing a short story with such a limited amount of words is difficult and that's why flash-flash is a great exercise for any writer. The practice of writing a short story and then whittling down, and pruning the word count until it fits your target limit is challenging.  Even more of challenge is the feat of squeezing all the essentials of a story - character, plot, narrative, conflict and resolution - using so few words.

One way to quickly reduce your word count is to rip out all adjectives and adverbs, and after you've done it you may be pleasantly surprised at how emotional and descriptive a story can be even when stripped bare of all descriptive words.

Using Flash to Your Advantage
Whether it's a novel or an anthology of short stories you're working on - flash fiction can help. It's always good to have a publishing history to show those prospective publishing editors. By getting a few short stories published gives you nice track record and also supplies any interested editor with some samples of your work from which they can judge your ability.

Entering flash competitions, organised by reputable organizers who use well-known and successful published authors, is another great way to not only prove your worth, but also to get your work in front of established authors and large audiences. Do well and good publicity could come your way.

In Conclusion
Flash fiction is a great way of learning how to tighten up your writing skills, the careful use of words is absolutely essential here. The production of a complete story is confidence building and gratifying. With novels being so time consuming flash offers a chance to try out new voices and genres, and can lead to publication if good enough and sent to the right places.

So, why not put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard as the case may be, and if you haven't already, give flash fiction a go. start writing now...

...Long live Flash Fiction.