Nicole J. Simms

Why I Write Flash Fiction

Post date: 16th July 2015

Hello, everyone! Today I plan to share my thoughts about flash fictions, why I started writing flash fictions, and any tips that I have found throughout the years.

Before I started writing, I only knew about two types of fiction (based on length): the novel and short story. So when I started completing creative writing courses, I was amazed at the different types. You have flash fiction, short story, novelette, novella, novel, and epic. This Wikipedia page goes into more detail about the different types. The one type that interested me the most was the flash fiction.

So what is flash fiction? Flash fiction is a story told in one thousand words or less. This number varies from place to place. The are other names for flash fictions: short short story, short short, and micro fiction, etc. The micro fictions are sometimes defined as being less than three hundred words.

Reasons why I write Flash Fiction

Below I have listed some of the reasons why I write flash fiction.

  • I wanted a challenge. Even though you are writing fewer words, it can be more difficult to write a piece of flash fiction that tells a whole story. The most challenging types are when you have a fixed word count, such as the 6-word story. Ernest Hemingway’s 6-word story (For sale: baby shoes, never worn) is one of the most famous examples.
  • I wanted to tighten my writing. At the beginning, I used to waffle in my short stories. However, writing flash fiction has taught me to write tight, cut the waffle, and only add what is needed for the story.
  • I received instant gratification. When you are writing a first draft of a novel, it can take months, years even, before you reach the end and get that ‘Yes I’ve done it’ feeling. However, with flash fiction, you don’t have to wait months, you can even write it in one sitting, and receive that instant sense of achievement. I find this the most useful when I’m feeling down about my writing (especially the longer pieces).
  • Not all of my story ideas can be novel length or even short story length.
  • I’m able to write without planning, which I can’t do with a novel (I’ve tried it; it didn’t go well). This allows me to enjoy the simple act of writing. It has also allowed me to trust my imagination more.

Flash Fiction Tips

If you too want to explore writing flash fictions, I have some tips for you that I have learned over the years.

  • Focus on one main character. You can have other minor characters, but don’t have too many.
  • You flash fiction stories need a start, middle and end like any other story, and also a theme.
  • They are good for adding twists.
  • Skip backstory. You don’t have the space to reveal the main character’s past. If you need to add backstory, you should tell rather than show, and keep it brief.
  • Have one scene
  • Cut out adjectives. They say to minimise adjectives in your writing anyway, but with flash fiction, unless it’s vital to the plot, knowing what colour the main character’s cat is isn’t necessary.
  • Cut out all unnecessary words.

These are just some examples that can help you to write flash fiction. The internet has a lot of other tips, and even free courses. I took a flash fiction course, but sadly, it’s no longer available. Writing flash fiction is a great challenge, and rather than fear it you should embrace it. Keep writing, folks.


My latest, The Horror Tree, posts can be found at the link below.

http://horrortree.com/setting-self-doubt-on-fire-the-importance-of-perseverance/

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