Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I found out about Flash fiction only about a year ago. Well, when I say I found out about it, I kind of knew what it was as it popped up in competitions and such, but I'd previously dismissed the concept.

I couldn't see the point of squeezing a story into a word count of 500 words or below? Some Flash fiction can be of a 1000 words, but generally it tends to be fewer.

It seemed to me as if the whole thing was just about playing a literary game for the sake of it. Some pieces of flash I read seemed meaningless and flat, yet others I began to realise were very well executed.

What made these better pieces stand out was that every word counted. Each word had been carefully selected and considered to create maximum impact. The writer of Flash is denied the luxury to faff and frill around the edges of a story because of the word count.In order to engender the reader's empathy, invoke emotion, or induce a belly laugh, the words used must be tailor made for the task.

I had a few cracks at it, and I must say I really enjoyed the challenge. It became more than a literary game for it's own sake, and I found it really helped me focus on the message/meaning of the story. I tend to always have a message/meaning somewhere in my writing as I guess if it means nothing to me, why should it mean anything to anyone else?

Words have the power to sometimes change lives, the course of history, or just bring a smile to a sad face. We should harness that power in many different ways to enrich our lives.

At the moment I'm enjoying the Flash experience!


  1. I've written a few flash up to 1,000 but I agree that 500 or less is punchier - flashier even!
    As a reader, once you get to about 750 words of something, do begin to feel almost instinctively that you're in short story territory.
    Flashing is fun - I love it

  2. Thanks for the comment Rachel, and I love flashing too. No officer, not that kind of flashing!

  3. I've writing flash stories of many sizes, from 6 word stories to 100 words stories and beyond. I find writing flash stories is a great way to learn how to remove unnecessary elements in my writing. Since I've begun writing them, I feel that my writing has really improved.

  4. I have gone from being totally uninterested in flash fiction to completely obsessed with both reading and writing it in about a year.

    When you have limited time it's a fantastic way to feel like you have achieved *something* if you can spend an hour and end up with a story.

    I find the #fridayflash community to be incredibly friendly and helpful too. I feel like I have really grown in ability and confidence since I started taking part in this.

  5. I wasn't aware of a distinction between 500 and 1000 words putting the latter more in the short story category, since most of my friday flashes are towards the 1000 mark. But having never really written short fiction before, I also have found the different demands of the form like a breath of fresh air and it's forced me to adapt different approaches each week. When I've completed my 52 flashes in November, it will be interesting to see what I can take back to the novel writing craft from it.

    Thanks for the post.

    Marc Nash

  6. I love the discipline of writing flash fiction. Making every word count is a skill I am trying to use in my longer pieces too. And for some of my flash pieces I have cut longer stories down to fit the word limit. It helps with my editing process.

  7. Hi Paul, yes I'm beginning to realise how much writitng Flash can help in writing my novel.A really worthwhile skill to have :)