This outline is taken from my presentation at the awards ceremony of the Whangarei Library Flash Fiction Competition 2016.
Flash fiction is:
- Exactly what it says it is – fiction that can be read in a flash.
- It is short fiction
- It is usually under 1000 words, often with word limits of 500, 300, 250 and 100 words.
There are intersections with “smokers” (articles that can be read in the time it takes to smoke a pipe of tobacco – not recommended as a practice, but a useful time indication), short-short fiction, micro-fiction. Sometimes the resemblance is so close these might almost be considered as aliases.
The skills involved are:
- Concise writing
- Precision, or to use the popular cliché, the right word in the right place at the right time.
- Structure and management of style. Flash fiction is not necessarily narrative, although much shares qualities with narrative.
The strengths of Flash Fiction are:
- FF allows experimentation for little time expense, or at least less expense than, say, writing a novel.
- It may bridge the gap between prose and poetry.
- It need not be conventional. Flash fiction may include vignettes (short descriptive works) and meta-writing (or self-reflexive writing and writing about the process of writing).
Flash fiction is not necessarily narrative, although much shares qualities with narrative. If it was necessarily narrative it might be better described as short-short stories, or even “Flash Narrative”. But as “fiction” has a specific meaning and we are wordsmiths, I regard narrative as optional.