Writing Flash Fiction

If you're like me, you find summer heat makes writing fiction difficult. Not only is it hard to concentrate, the computer is never in a good place to deal with sun and writing with paper and pen is a sticky, sun-tan lotiony, sweaty business.

This is when I turn to writing flash fiction.

Flash can be defined as anything from 300 to 1000 words. There are many ready markets out there for good flash fiction, but it's not an easy option. Stories have to be tight, without extraneous words, and beginners often struggle to capture an adequate narrative line in such a small compass. At one end of the scale flash fiction merges into that interesting beast, the prose poem, and at the other it is something like good, short after-dinner story. The plus side to ultra-short stories is that the first draft of a strong flash can be completed in twenty minutes, (even I can concentrate for that long!) and revising is much easier than a longer story.

Here are some of my favourite venues:
Vestal Review
Smokelong
Flashquake

Often simple ideas work well for flash. I've worked with one word themes like Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry and produced flash featuring suttee (the act of burning a wife on her husband's funeral pyre), an erotic piece about a woman in a snowstorm (published by Ruthie's Club), a story about rain on the sea (in print with Literary Potpourri) and a story about deserts which ran in both SaucyVox and Thought. Other useful ideas are starsigns (a story about Gemini, for example, could be fitted into 1000 words), seasons, strong emotions, or homages to other writers. I've had flash published that played around with de Maupassant's loathing for Paris and another is due out that looks at bullfights from a non-Hemingway perspective.