Writing Flash Fiction

In a previous post, I made the comment “if you count flash, and I do ….”  I’d like to expand upon that.

First and foremost: flash is hard, damnhard–and absolutely delicious to read.  By its very nature, there is no room for error.  It’s a story: in under a thousand words.
Story is the key word here.  Story: a character in a setting with a problem that comes to some kind of resolution–sounds easier than it is.  A lot of flash I come across is really story fragments or a scene or a vignette, which has its place, but mostly I interpret it as a miss.  It’s not a story.
Now I can easily write a thousand words in a day.  I cannot easily write flash in a day.  Why?  It’s very difficult to conceive of a story that can be told at that length.  When I do hit upon an idea that might work at flash length, it almost always runs over a thousand words, and I have to spend time cutting.  In short stories you have more room to explore and develop characters and plot, but not so in flash.  Every sentence, every paragraph has to be doing multiple things at once for it to work—and that’s hard to pull off.  I have more failed flash than successful flash.
And that’s why I count it in my story totals for the year.  It’s hard, damn hard.

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