Flash Fiction:

How does it make us better writers?

Flash fiction is one of the most useful tools in a writer's tool-belt in my opinion. I remember back when I was in college one of my professors pointed out that they were going to make us write short papers vs. long papers. Now at the time, everyone in the class was thrilled. What we didn't realize and our professor tried to point out to us, was that often times writing "shorter" can be more difficult than writing "longer". Perhaps you too have learned this the hard way? 

The briefer the story, the harder it is to fit all the plot points as well as an introduction and conclusion. When it comes to flash fiction we are talking about fiction that can be as short as 100 words or less.

Now that college class gave me a brief introduction to fitting everything in your writing as brief as possible, it was still kept at 2 pages. So even I find flash fiction to be an amazing feat for those of extreme talent. 

Talent is exactly what it takes to come up with everything you need to complete such a brief story. Here is my first attempt at flash fiction, inspired by the below photograph:

Deer

Writing Inspired Photograph

Deer
Credit: Melissa Allor

A Glance

31 words

You looked at me and I looked at you. Fear spoke through, but belonging to who? I drove away and let you be, you walked away and we lived in peace.

Review

Now what I can't decide is if what I wrote really constitutes flash fiction or not. I am not certain if all the elements are there, plus it reads a bit like a poem albeit unintentionally. I'd love to know what you think.

What Constitutes Flash Fiction?

According to Wikipedia, flash fiction also goes by several other names, twitterature, the dribble, drabble, sudden fiction, and the six word story, unfortunately this site does not clarify the difference between flash fiction and poetry. Further research suggests that it is unsurprisingly difficult to define the difference between the two. 

Research also suggests there are several elements that must be included to create flash fiction. 

  1. It must be brief.
  2. It must contain a character.
  3. Surprise Endings are key.
  4. Rich Language, between that of poets and short stories.
  5. Action is involved.

Let's Review "The Glance" Again, Knowing The Key Elements

  1. It must be brief. Check - The Glance, fits this criteria.
  2. It must contain a character. Check - Again, we have characters.
  3. Surprise Endings are key. We are lacking a surprise ending, but that doesn't necessarily disqualify it from flash fiction. It just might mean my flash fiction needs work.
  4. Rich Language, between that of poets and short stories. We are certainly in the confusing range between the two.
  5. Action is involved. A glance is involved, which I think constitutes an action.

This leaves me to conclude that perhaps I qualified the above as flash fiction.

Conclusion

Flash fiction while difficult to compose, and difficult to analyze can in fact increase your skills as a writer by breaking you out of your current habits. It teaches you knew skills and can in fact hone the skills you already have. Mastering flash fiction is a talent worth striving for. It is also a great way to break yourself out of a rut in your writing. Flash fiction can be fun and spontaneous, a great way to be creative.