Monday, February 2, 2015

The Beauty Of Flash Fiction


Flash fiction is a form which is deceptively complex.

The beginning of every flash piece is like setting down an untravelled path towards an unknown destination. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, yet you have no idea what’s around the corner.

What triggers the story: a line of dialogue, a picture prompt, a single word, the line of a song?

What genre will emerge? A slice of humor, a slip of fantasy or a sliver of horror?

Whose point of view? A child? An object?

What types of ideas will come out? Extended sentences, like a throng of impatient learners, rushing through the school gates at the end of a long and tiring week. Or short phrases. Tip toe. Wary. Exploratory. Scanning the corridors of a new flash adventure.

Who knows? Writing flash fiction presents infinite possibilities which outnumber the sand grains scattered across Arabia.

And that is what I love about flash fiction – the unknown, the thrill, the risk.

In good flash fiction, most of the story occurs in what isn't there. We are talking about fiction that utilizes negative space. It’s a beautiful enigma that hints... leaves you wondering...

Expect to be taken by surprise as you savor this tasty morsel which is short on words but long on depth. It’s concise. Squeezes out any excess, yet maintains the succulence. Hacks away at the clutter until the core is revealed.

If you’ve hit a dry spot, it revs up your creative processes. It’s easier to maintain your focus for tiny word bites, than over a full-course meal of chapters and verses.

Language becomes precise and sparse. When we are forced to write within a limited frame every word becomes charged with intention and meaning. Pay close attention to detail and examine every single syllable in every word.

The fiction reaches out and grabs! It can be a gut punch or a passionate kiss, but the reader must feel something.

Imagine this scenario. You experience a fleeting moment of inspiration... maybe you’re in the shower, or just relaxing at the beachfront, minding your own, and an idea sneaks in. You plan to ignore it, but it anchors itself firmly. It refuses to disappear. However, you have no desire to extend this into something longer.

Don’t disregard it.

Seize the moment. Jot down the idea. See where it takes you.

Enjoy the ride!

16 comments:

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful post! You hit on the reason why flash fiction is so potent. And sometimes that makes it difficult to write. Yet I think it an excellent exercise in learning the craft of writing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I need to try it. Thanks, Michelle!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I believe flash fiction is the only kind of writing I haven't tried yet.

Chrys Fey said...

I love flash fiction, I just haven't written any flash fiction in a while.

Chrys Fey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fundy Blue said...

Great post, Michelle!I Loved the school kiddo simile! I never even knew about flash fiction until I read about it on the IWSG. I've never tried it; maybe sometime. Have a good one!

Anne R. Allen said...

My writers club used to have a great flash fiction contest every year. I always entered. Now they have 2500 word short story contest and I hardly ever bother. Something about flash challenges the mind and gets those juices flowing. And there's nothing better for preparing you to edit your own longer work.

Olga Godim said...

Great post. I've written a couple flash fiction stories but not in a while. One is simmering in my head right now. What an amazing coincidence.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never tried flash fiction but I've read a lot of great pieces.

Michelle Wallace said...

Christine, it's a great way of practising lean, tight writing.
Alex, you should give it a go.
Diane, I think it will be a breeze for you.
Chrys, you could always slip one or two in between those novellas.
Fundy Blue, you should try it sometime, it's quite exciting.
Anne, it challenges the mind and fosters creativity.
Olga, have fun with that flash story!
Susan, there are lots of great pieces out there... some writers have a special knack for flash fiction writing.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Wonderful! I especially love the part about how flash fiction utilizes negative space and hints at what isn't there.

cleemckenzie said...

I haven't given it a go because I usually freeze up at the word "flash." You've given some good reasons to try it out though.

J.L. Campbell said...

You have me wanting to go off and write some flash fiction now!
26 days of Flash Fiction Romance. #AtoZtheme :)

Arlee Bird said...

I haven't written too many flash fiction pieces, but I enjoy reading them because the time investment is small while the payoff can be big. It's a real art form.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Toinette Thomas said...

I have written many stories that started out as flash fiction pieces, but I never seen to be able to come up with my own prompts. I always seem to need to get them from somewhere else. In any case, I need to do more. I feel more creative when I'm just throwing out ideas and seeing what develops. Great post.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love this post - and I agree on all counts. Flash is full of possibilities in a tiny package. :)