A Few Words about Flash Fiction

The way we read has changed. Most of us are getting our news and entertainment on the internet, and many of us are accessing the internet via our cell phones.  Our attention spans have shrunk along with our diminishing screen sizes.  It’s no surprise then that the length of our stories is shrinking too. Perhaps it’s why Flash Fiction has gotten increasingly popular over the past 20 years.


So, what is Flash Fiction?

According to Wikipedia:

One of the first known usages of the term “flash fiction” in reference to the literary style was the 1992 anthology Flash Fiction: Seventy-Two Very Short Stories. Editor James Thomas stated that the editors’ definition of a “flash fiction” was a story that would fit on two facing pages of a typical digest-sized literary magazine. In China the style is frequently called a “smoke long” or “palm-sized” story, with the comparison being that the story should be finished before the reader could finish smoking a cigarette.

Other names for flash fiction include sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction and short short story, though distinctions are sometimes drawn between some of these terms; for example, sometimes one-thousand words is considered the cut-off between “flash fiction” and the slightly longer short story “sudden fiction.” The terms “micro fiction” and “micro narrative” are sometimes defined as below 300 words. The term “short short story” was the most common term until about 2000, when it was overtaken by “flash fiction.”


Where can I read Flash Fiction?

There are many online literary journals that feature Flash Fiction as their primary form. In fact, there are too many to list them all. However, here are a few journals that publish Flash and are a great place to start:

WigleaF (very) short fiction.  The Wigleaf Top 50 is an important annual list compiled of the best short fictions across the online literary magazine world. It’s accessible via the Wigleaf site.

Word Riot.  Word Riot publishes much more than flash, but it has an excellent collection of flash too.

Dogzplot Flash Fiction. A fun and funky online ‘zine that publishes flash works of 200 words or less.

Smokelong Quarterly.  Another highly venerated online literary journal that publishes flash.


Any advice on writing Flash Fiction?

Here is a link to a post with advice from six writers about writing flash fiction.  If you’re not familiar with the online literary market, you may not recognize the names of these writers (many of whom are also editors), but they are known within the world of online literary journals and their comments are astute.

Finally, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts published my definition of “What is Compressed Fiction” in February 2013. I share it here for your consideration:

Compressed fiction: saying more with less. Word choice is critical; poetic prose intention optional but desired. Readers who come ready to fill in what the author implies but does not state get more from the experience.


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