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        What Is Flash Fiction? Definition, Examples & Types

        • calenderNov 29, 2023
        • calender 5 min read

        Flash fiction is like a burst of fireworks, short-lived but creating a lasting impact. If you want to know the basics of flash fiction, this article is for you! In this article, we’ve not only explained what is flash fiction but also given useful tips for creating the best flash fiction. 

        We’ve also included phenomenal flash fiction examples and described the types of flash fiction. So without further ado, let’s start with a simple flash fiction definition. 

        Elevate your flash fiction with expert story editing services!

        What is flash fiction? 

        Flash fiction is a short written piece having less than 1500 words. Many flash fiction tales only focus on a single theme and conflict to create an impact. A well-known practice is to include only 1-2 characters in the flash fiction story and focus on them. Following are some of the characteristics of flash fiction: 

        • Experimental- Flash fiction tales often consist of features like non-linear narratives, fragmented style of writing, symbolism, allegory, and combining various genres. 
        • Intriguing twists- Flash fiction tales often involve surprise, unexpected plot turns to create an impact. 
        • Ambiguous endings- To create an effect, flash fiction writers often don’t give the main character a definite conclusion. 
        • Poetic elements- Many flash fiction stories consist of various popular literary devices like simile, metaphor, alliteration, and more that are used in poetry. 
        • Precision- Since flash fiction tales are short, every word is important to convey meaning and engage the readers. 

        Now that we’ve understood the features of flash fiction, let’s understand its different types. We’ve also added the flash fiction word count for every type. 

        Types of Flash Fiction

        1. Sudden fiction- Sudden fiction refers to a written piece maximum of 750 words.  
        2. Drabble or micro-fiction- These fictional works are of 100 words. 
        3. Dribble, also called minisaga- These flash fiction tales consist of a maximum of 50 words. 
        4. Twitterature- These are flash fiction stories posted on Twitter that do not contain more than 280 characters. 

        If you’re excited about crafting short tales, we’ve made it simple for you. Dive in to discover 5 simple steps to create the best flash fiction! 

        How to write flash fiction in 5 simple steps 

        1. Craft an attention-grabbing first sentence 

        Composing an attractive first sentence is important to hook your readers to read further. Following are some strategies to do this: 

        • Begin the story with an exciting action: For example, He jumped on the moving bus to save his life.  
        • Ask an intriguing question: For example, What if we found the secret to stop time? 
        • Highlight an interesting contradiction: For example; She was physically fragile as a flower but had an iron will. 

        2. Describe all five senses

        This includes adding relevant details about the smells, sounds, tastes, textures, and visuals. Describing all five senses will help to accurately describe the setting of a story. Here are some strategies to describe all five senses in fan fiction: 

        • Use colors and shapes to describe the scene visually. 
        • Combine multiple senses to create an effect. For example, write about the visuals and the sounds in one sentence to create an effect. The line, “Sparks shot up from the crackling bonfire and danced in the air, accompanied by the burning wood’s pungent smell” demonstrates this point. 
        • Link a smell with an emotion or memory and describe how the character feels after inhaling that smell. 

        3. Experiment with content and structure 

        Flash fiction is all about having fun and exploring innovative ideas to create a lasting impression. Here are some strategies you can use to experiment while creating flash fiction tales: 

        • Write flash fiction as a shopping list, a report, a letter, a set of instructions, or an email. 
        • Imitate the writing style of your favorite author and add your twist to the tale. 
        • Use an unreliable narrator to create multiple perspectives about the plot and create an effect. Depicting that the narrator is confused about the events in the story can add intrigue to the story. 
        • Use the stream-of-consciousness technique. This technique is an interior monologue where the characters’ actions, thoughts, and flow are expressed in a continuous flow. Here is an example from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway

        “Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely? All this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely?”

        In the above example, Mrs. Dalloway’s introspection and her action of walking towards Bond Street are written in continuous flow. 

        4. Develop a strong plot 

         Following are some writing techniques you can use to craft a memorable plot and climax: 

        • Use flashbacks to show the character’s motives. 
        • Include foreshadowing within the flash fiction story to anticipate what will soon happen. You can drop hints using dialogue to engage the reader to read further. This technique can be seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In this book, Professor Trelawney predicts Peter Pettigrew’s return and reunion with Voldemort before it’s revealed that the rat Scabbers is Pettigrew. 
        • If your character needs to have an important realization (epiphany), include it before the climax scene. 
        • Creatively use point of view to engage readers- Point of view is the perspective from which the story is narrated. A strategy is to shift between the characters’ points of view. For example, in Jane Austen’s book Pride and Prejudice, there is often a shift in point of view from Elizabeth to Darcy and vice-versa. Here are some quotes to demonstrate this better: 

        “He began to wish to know more of her, and as a step towards conversing with her himself, attended to her conversation with others.”  (Darcy’s point of view) 

        “In Darcy’s presence, she dared not mention Wickham’s name, but Elizabeth instantly comprehended that he was uppermost in her thoughts, and the various recollections connected with him gave her a moment’s distress…” (Elizabeth’s point of view)

        5. Craft an unforgettable climax 

        The climax is the most exciting and essential part of a flash fiction story. Following are some strategies to create an unforgettable climax: 

        • Reveal a hidden truth that changes the entire narrative. 
        • Link the climax to the story’s beginning. You can do this by disclosing additional details in the climax related to an incident mentioned in the beginning. For example, in One Hundred Years of Solitude, the climax refers to the scene where Colonel Aureliano Buendía faces the firing squad which is also mentioned toward the beginning of the novel. 
        • Depict a moral dilemma where a character must decide whether to go against their principles to win against the antagonist. 
        • Intensify the action by introducing unforeseen obstacles and emphasizing the urgency to take action to defeat the antagonist. 
        • Withhold important information about the characters till the end to keep the readers hooked to the story. 

        Now let’s see some of the best examples of flash fiction! 

        Three amazing flash fiction examples 

        1. Truth is a Bearded Lady by Stephen Graham Jones

        My husband has two hearts. He told me. When he was a kid, sideshow people were always lurking around to kidnap him into the carnival. But he got away each time, just barely. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t be together right now. But he only tells me about his second heart. His other wife thinks he’s like everybody else. She thinks he just has one heart, and can just love one woman. I know the truth, though. He trusts me with all his secrets. If either of his hearts is bigger, then it’s the one he’s given me.

        2. Barnes by Edmundo Paz Soldan 

        IT WAS ALL a mistake, Barnes understood. Locked in his jail cell. He would proudly stick to the truth. Later, however in a dim room, a blinding light in his eyes, the interrogations began, accusations about assassinating the president, and he pondered his mediocrity, the massive insignificance of his life- and feeling the vain useless weight of importance for the first time, said, yes, he had indeed killed the president. Whereupon he was accused of planting the bomb that killed two hundred eighty-seven soldiers in Tarapaca’s regiment; and all he could do was laugh with contempt, embracing the blame. Later, he confessed without pause to sabotaging the gas line, which left Bolivia wrecked economically, to have started the fire consuming ninety-two percent of Cochabamba’s forested parks, to exploding the four LAB jets mid-flight and raping the daughter of La Paz’s North American ambassador. They would execute him by firing squad at sunrise the next day, they announced. Indeed they should do so: a man like him, he agreed, had no right to live. 

        3. The Bodyguard by Lydia Davis 

        He goes with me wherever I go. He has fair hair. He is young and strong. His arms and legs are round and muscular. He is my bodyguard. But he never opens his eyes and never leaves his armchair. Lying deep in the chair, he is carried from place to place, attended, in turn, by his caregivers.                                              

        If you’re inspired by these flash fiction tales, don’t hesitate to try and experiment! To stimulate your imagination, here are 20 phenomenal flash fiction prompts! 

        Twenty amazing flash fiction writing prompts 

        1. A book collector finds the first edition of a popular old classic. The ghost of the author resides in the book’s pages. 
        2. The execution of a prisoner suddenly stops due to a wizard’s powerful magic. 
        3. A girl recognizes a spy in disguise. Suddenly, her life is in danger. 
        4. A man suddenly finds out that he is the last living heir of a king and is kidnapped. 
        5. A child discovers that he has a strange power to bring paper animals to life. 
        6. The haunting tune of a flutist hypnotizes all animals who try to attack a well-known mayor. 
        7. A teenager discovers a toy train inside which precious diamonds are hidden. 
        8. A scientist discovers a portal to another universe behind a painting. 
        9. A comet crashes into a village, attracting an alien who knows a strange secret. 
        10. An enchanter brings a dead dragon to life, causing chaos. 
        11. A 15-year-old boy realizes that he has the rare power to manipulate the weather. 
        12. An old museum unknowingly adds a cursed object to its collection, leading to wrath from an ancient tribe. 
        13. A strange parachute lands in a remote, deserted village. 
        14. A kid finds a dwarf who can travel to magical lands. 
        15. A human helps a witch without knowing her true identity. In return, the witch gives him a doll that can tell him about the future. 
        16. A cruel fisherman sees a mermaid and tries to drag her to the shore. The angry mermaid takes revenge. 
        17. A lady finds bones while digging in the garden. To her horror, she realizes that a strange noise is coming from the bones. 
        18. A journalist falls in love with the son of a terrorist who is running away from his father’s terrorist organization. 
        19. An excavator finds an underground tunnel that leads him to the home of a banished God. 
        20. A vampire finds a ring that gives him the power to transform into any animal. 

        After writing flash fiction, the next step is publishing. Here are the 4 basic steps to publish your flash fiction tales. 

        Four easy steps to publish flash fiction tales 

        1. Perfectly edit and proofread your tale 

        This involves removing any unwanted, extra words, improving word choice, and rectifying any spelling mistakes. It also involves checking the story for grammatical errors and inconsistencies in tone and voice. If editing isn’t your strength, you can consider taking our editing and proofreading services

        2. Research publications that publish flash fiction tales 

        There are various flash fiction contests, literary magazines, and online platforms that accept submissions of short written pieces. By visiting their websites and reading their submission guidelines, you can select the best publication to publish your tale. SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, 100 Word Story, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Cheap Pop are some literary platforms that accept flash fiction submissions. Some flash fiction writing contests in 2024 are: 

        • The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction 
        • New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2024
        • Bath Flash Fiction Award
        • The Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest

         3. Format your submissions 

        This involves ensuring that your submissions follow specific guidelines for the document format, word count, font size, etc. It also includes adhering to guidelines related to the margins, spacing, indenting paragraphs, etc. 

        4. Create a cover letter (Optional) 

        Many flash fiction magazines ask to include a cover letter along with the flash fiction submission. A cover letter is a one-page document written to introduce the author and their work. The cover letter includes the following details: 

        • Contact information of the author (name, phone number, email id, social media handles) 
        • Title of the flash fiction story 
        • Word count of the story
        • Publication details- These include the name of the magazine or publisher
        • Short introduction as a writer 

        Alternatively, you can also self-publish your flash fiction tales on various platforms like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace, and more. We also provide various self-publishing services like book typesetting, book cover design, formatting, etc. 

        Here are some other resources you might find useful: 

        Frequently Asked Questions

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        Priya Linkedin

        Priya has a talent for academic research and enjoys simplifying complex topics. When she's not helping students improve their writing, she can be seen reading poetry, playing the harmonium, or learning classical dance.

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