Flash Fiction

What is flash fiction?

You’ve probably written short stories. High school was notorious for making students write several pages on different themes or topics, both fiction and non-fiction. But my guess is those were closer to 5,000 words. Too long for flash fiction.

So what is flash fiction all about?

For one, flash fiction is much shorter, although there aren’t any set rules about how short. Word counts can range from 50 – 1,000 or 2,000 per piece and the theme can be in almost any genre.

Writing flash fiction takes some practice. The ability to condense a story, while conveying all the excitement and character, and engaging the reader throughout, can also help when writing longer stories and novels.

Think of plotting out a chapter or a scene. How can you pull together all the elements and action into less than 1,000? Or how about 500?

On Twitter, writers often challenge each other with writing prompts and some amazing stories unfold in 240 characters at a time. That seems a bit short, but you would be amazed at what some writers can do with a few tweets.

If you are interested in pursuing flash fiction, and even getting it published, the Publishing…and Other Forms of Insanity blog has a post which lists 54 paying markets of flash fiction that is worth a good look. The post began with 37 and there are now 54 sites listed.

While going through the numerous sites, I ran across “Nature Futures” and I had to ask myself, could that be from Nature.com? Sure enough, Nature Futures began as a column in the prestigious Nature science journal. I was instantly excited, however, their first piece of advice, when reading the blog How to Write for Nature Futures, is “prepare to be disappointed”.

If you know anything about scientific publishing, then you know it is ridiculously difficult to get a research article published in Nature, and anyone who does basically throws a party upon acceptance. Well, just like Nature, Nature Futures receives so many submissions that it’s highly unlikely to get published there (although apparently an 11-year old did!)

I work for a research institute that respects Nature, so it would be extra cool to get a science fiction story published in Nature Futures. The story has to be 850 – 950 words and be “near-future, hard SF” according to How to Write for Nature Futures post.

Some of my short stories and concept ideas could be edited to conform to the word count limits of flash fiction.

Writing flash fiction is good practice at being concise and removing filer words.  These skills will come in handy when editing a 150,000 word first draft!

ButterflyQHave you written and/or published any flash fiction? What did you use as a prompt? Share any writing tips you have found useful for writing flash fiction, and feel free to link to your pieces, too!


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