3 Things to Remember When Writing Flash Fiction

Last week, I accidentally wrote a piece of flash fiction.  I meant to write.  That part wasn’t accidental but I was suprised when I came up with the idea.  Most often when I have an idea for fiction it is for a picture book so this surprised me.  Thanks to WOW! Women on Writing, I’ve read flash fiction and have some clue what to do.

If you aren’t familiar with flash fiction, these are short stories that are generally less than 750 words.  Often they are 500 words or less.  If you are used to writing adult fiction, this word count may make you panic.  If, on the other hand, you write for children including the occassional picture book, that isn’t going to be the tricky part.  Here are three things to keep in mind if you try to write flash.

Beginning, Middle and End

This piece may be super short but it is also a full story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending.  Forget this and you may craft a clever situation with no story problem or an amusing set up with no resolution.  Flash fiction has to contain everything found in a longer work with the possible exception of subplots.

A Suitable Hook

Because you have so few words to work with, you have to set the hook and set it fast.  This means that you can’t spend a page setting the scene and introducing your character.  A flash hook frequently drops the reader right into the action.

Not Just Any Action Will Do

This doesn’t mean that every piece of flash fiction starts with a car chase, a bank robbery or an assault.  In fact, depending on the story, it would be hard to make any of these things work.  Yes, you need to tumple into the action but really that just means that you join the story in progress whether it is into the middle of a family dinner or flood recovery.

How these elements play out will depend on the story that you decide to tell.  But I have to admit that I enjoy a strong piece of flash much the same way I enjoy a strong picture book.  “Hey, you really need to read this…”

–SueBE