Writing Flash Fiction

Guest Post by Dale E. Lehman For the past fourteen months, I’ve read and written flash fiction for IU’s weekly contest. Experience and a bit of research has taught me several things about this art form. At the risk of making it harder for me to win than it already is, I’d like to share some insights with you. “Flash fiction” usually refers to short stories of 1000 words or less that contain character and plot development. For the IU contest, the length restriction is fairly harsh: 250 words maximum. It could be worse. Variants include “twitterature” (140 characters, obviously), “dribble” (50 words), “drabble” or “microfiction” (100 words), and so forth. Don’t bother memorizing that unless you really feel like it. Once called the “short short story,” flash fiction is nothing new. Its practitioners include such luminaries as Kafka, Lovecraft, Hemingway, Clarke, Bradbury, and others. Various print and online journals devote themselves to it, while many periodicals that print longer fiction will consider flash fiction. Flash fiction isn’t a toy. It’s a real, potentially marketable, form of literature. So how do you write it? Basically like any other story, but given the space limitations, everything is compressed. You get […]

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