Flash Fiction goes by many names: micro fiction, sudden fiction, short short stories, skinny stories (with no fat), postcard fiction and in China it translates to a palm sized smoke long because it should only last as long as a cigarette (thanks Wikipedia). There’s no easy way to describe what it is.
The organisers of the Bridport Prize give this advice to those considering entering the annual competition.
Flash fiction work contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications and resolution. However unlike the case with a traditional short story, the word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten: hinted at or implied in the written storyline…
Kathy Kachelries, founding member of 365 Tomorrows, a website that has just celebrated its eight birthday says much the same thing but with a tad more aggression.
Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended…It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated.
365 Tomorrows publishes a new piece of short science and speculative flash fiction each day, paying the usual writer award of honour and glory. There’s a huge archive to draw on if you like your fiction short and futuristic.
However, if you would prefer to investigate other publishing opportunities then check out Flash Fiction Chronicles – it has impressive data on potential international markets (some of them paying), organised according to story length from 1500 words to 140 characters. I also recommend their craft articles. If you want to write flash fiction this is a site you must visit.
They cover such a wide field because there is no agreed length for Flash Fiction. The writer who edited the first collection thought it should fit onto two facing pages of a typical literary magazine. The Bridport wants 250 words or less for example.
The most famous example is just six words. Said to be written by Hemingway in response to a bet, he is supposed to have called it his best work.
For sale baby shoes. Never worn.
Since then famous writers are often asked to rise to the challenge.
Here’s Margaret Atwood six words
Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
Safari = Swahili for long journey. I am on the look out for anything accessible from a keyboard that educates, entertains, intrigues, raises a smile. Anything that helps a reader get through the day or a writer the next draft. Let me know if you write a website that you’d like featured or discover something that really should be shared.