Wednesday, May 16, 2012

To Flash or Not to Flash

Today (May 16) is International Flash Fiction Day. This seems a good time to look at that little upstart in the modern fiction movement. For a great compilation of potential markets, see Jim Harrington's comprehensive list at Flash Fiction Chronicles. Also, in honor of Jim, here are six questions to ponder. Post your answers as a reply, if you'd like to play along.

1. What does the popularity of flash fiction suggest about our current culture?

2. Is flash fiction easier or more difficult to write than short fiction (e.g. short stories, novellas)?

3. What makes a great flash stand out?

4. Should flash fiction be considered a "marketing" category (short story, novella, novelette, novel), or is it a style of fiction (e.g. science fiction, thriller, mystery, etc)?

5. Will flash fiction survive the test of time, or is it simply a flash in the pan?

6. Is the explosion of flash fiction a net gain to the field or a net loss? For readers? For writers?

While you're pondering these issues, why not read a flash or three? What's the most impressive flash you've read today (this week? ever?)


  1. A really useful list of potential markets. Many thanks.

  2. Jury's still our for me on flash fiction.

  3. I'll take a crack at it.

    1. I think readers and writers have both less time to read and write. It could be that our attention spans are shrinking too.

    2. Harder, because you have less room to tie everything together.

    3. A good story arch and/or character development (this isn't to say that the characters have to change, for me anyway, but rather strong characteristics that bring them to life)

    4. Marketing, since flash can be humorous, sci-fi, horror, etc.

    5. I think it will survive, and even thrive.

    6. Net gain for the field, especially writers. FF teaches writers to focus, tighten prose, be creative, and allows them to take risks in their writing because less time/$ is invested.

    For readers, that may be personal. Some people really like to step into longer works, live in the characters world, etc., but for the rest, I think flash offers a variety of fresh perspectives and voice, and quick, fun entertainment.

    My favorite flash read this week? "How Did She Look I Must Know," by R.S. Bohn at the Molotov Cocktail.

    Cheers to Flash, and Jim.

  4. 1. I think it reflects our crazy lives - news comes in sound bites, social media has encouraged people to share bits and pieces (and therefore learn to read bits and pieces of others' lives) and in general the lack of downtime to curl up with a fat, slow novel.

    2. For me it is easier, but next August I will have written a flash story every weekend for two years. Practice makes it easier, and I have not written many longer pieces. To write memorable, award winning flash - not so easy!

    3. Tight writing - every word counts - a story arc of some sort, whether plot or character, and a small nugget - either a small point, a small change, a small heroic result. Feeling like it is complete satisfies the reader. An ending that doesn't fizzle out or feel tacked on.

    4. Definitely marketing

    5. I think it will thrive in the future. I think as kids grow up they will be far more interested in flash than in longer work, their brains are changing with digital media.

    6. Net gain to the field for both

    I love reading and writing flash fiction. In many ways, it is like poetry. When it works, it can be delicious.

  5. 1. Flash is an unintended consequence of our culture of speed and multi-tasking.

    2. Good flash is a tougher form to write, but ultimately less rewarding than short stories.

    3. It stands as our "generation's" contribution to literary communication, but in another century it may be a form as incomprehensible as reading Stephen Crane's short stories are now.

    4. Flash is a style, not a genre--a rigid form with a single POV and a tight narrative arc ending often in a reveal.

    5. Its survival isn't important since every age creates the form that satisfies its needs best.

    6. Definitely a net gain when you have such a multitude of neophyte writers and a plethors of media, including cell phones.