Writing Flash Fiction

The key to flash fiction is brevity

For those who don’t know, Flash fiction or the short-short story as it is also known, is a type of fiction writing that relies on brevity and can be read – or written I suppose – in a flash.

Surprisingly, at least to me, this type of storytelling is not a new thing (I don’t live under a rock, I promise!). In fact, it has just about always been around; remember Aesop and his Fables such as The Boy who Cried, Wolf? Who’d have thunk it?

Certainly not me. I figured it was a new way to tell stories, perhaps developed out of the need to accommodate the shorter attention spans we seem to have been evolving in this, the age of technology. Colour me surprised with a giant, yellow crayon!

Since I stumbled upon this wonderful variant of my favourite art form – the short story – I have been reading lots of flash fiction in an attempt to learn how to become better at writing it myself. After all, as a lot of writers will tell you, other than actually writing, the best way to learn how to write is to read, read, read!

You may be thinking that it should be easy to write a story such a short story, but it’s actually quite tricky. There are certain elements required in order write good flash fiction, such as keeping everything within the confines of 750 words or thereabouts (though I have seen some go up as much as 1500).

I find this very difficult. My natural instinct is to explain or to describe everything in great detail which, if it goes unchecked (and it often does ) can create hours of extra editing that would have been unnecessary otherwise.
I always want people to see in their heads what I see in mine when I’m picturing the scene. However, there should be no superfluous words or phrases – every word must count because you need the space. You see my problem? It’s hard sometimes to be concise.

Another good tip I received recently about writing flash fiction is to maybe keep to using one character, possibly two and to use a single setting. Too many characters and scene changes mean too many words.

Finally, once you’ve come up with a great idea, you just need to write. Write your story all the way through reminding yourself as you write that your word space is limited. When you’ve finished, you can edit and chip out any words that are surplus to requirements.

I often struggle with just writing through to the end. I want to be able to do it; it’s just that I always want what I’ve written to be instantly perfect, which I know is silly because perfect is an illusion, it’s not real. We can only just do our best. I do try though, and as I always say, I’m still learning.

Anyway, thank you for reading all of this if you made it this far. I do appreciate your valuable time.

Until next time,


© 2017 GLT

Categories: Writing Tips

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. Dear George,

    I’m K&L, the Founder & CEO of the Millionaire’s Digest Magazine, and I recently received your application requesting to become a writer for our magazine, and so this is just a my letter to you to let you know that I have completely looked over and have accepted you to become a writer for our Writing Magazine!

    Now what happens next is that there is nothing that really happens next. Another words, there is no invitation or email that you have to go and check as the invitation for our magazine is only sent out 12 times a year which always happens at the beginning of the month. (Usually the first day.)

    This is just my letter to you as the CEO, just to let you know that I have accepted your request and have added you to our list full of magazine writers who I send the invitations out to every month.

    The only thing that changes now is that at the beginning of every month, you will want to make sure to check your email as you will receive your invitation which will include the following:
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    -The private form to submit your articles.
    -How long your articles need to be.
    -And everything else that I know you are going to want to ask me about.

    Other than that, if you have any other questions, you’re always welcome to ask me and I will kindly make sure to help get them answered for you.

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    Millionaire’s Digest Magazine Founder & CEO


  2. Great post! I honestly thought flash fiction was new thing too. And I agree it’s difficult staying within such a small amount of words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article, very interesting.
    If I may add a thought or two, one way to improve the writing of Flash Fiction, or Sound Bite Fiction as I call it, is to get involved in some of the many weekly challenges that can be found.
    Rochelle Wisoff-Fields hosts the superb Friday Fictioneers with a 100-word limit:
    and Alastair Forbes’ excellent Sunday Photo Fiction allows 200:
    These make you work at your craft!

    Liked by 1 person


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