Flash fiction is a very short story, also known as micro-fiction or sudden fiction. Over the past few years flash fiction has become increasingly popular, as it provides a complete and satisfying story, which can be read in one go – ideal for the busy world in which we live.
Conventionally, a short story will contain anything from 1000 to 10,000 words. Flash fiction, however, is usually no more than 500 words long, and can even be as short as 50! Within that limited word count, the writer still has to adhere to all the rules that apply when creating a longer story. You need a strong beginning, middle, and end. And, just like in longer pieces, you need to have a problem that can be solved by your characters or character, and preferably a twist in the plot to keep your readers guessing how your tale is going to end.
The main rules when writing flash fiction are -:
1. Every single word in the story has to count.
2. There isn’t room for waffle. Don’t stray from the point you intend to get across.
3. Don’t waste time on a lengthy introduction. Dive straight into the action.
4. The pace of flash fiction has to be fast.
Not only is writing flash fiction a lot of fun, it is also an excellent exercise in improving your writing. Whether you want to write stories, articles or journalistic reports, an ability to create quick and concise pieces of work will only be of benefit.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.