What is flash fiction ?
Flash fiction, also known as microfiction, is a form of fiction writing. It consists of very short pieces of writing. The maximum length for a text to qualify as flash fiction is unclear: depending on who you ask, the cap can be anywhere in between 300 and 1,000 words. There is no minimum length: the only requirement here is that the text must be fiction, or the barest bones of it.
There are fixed forms in flash fiction, such as drabbles and six-word stories, which we will talk about later in this article.
How does it work?
Due to its short nature, flash fiction can seem extremely easy to write. However, such is not the case. Flash fiction is challenging in its own way. The main challenge is that in a very short piece, you have little to no space to lay out the setting or the context explicitly, so you have to suggest them. If you are aiming for a precise number of words or characters, you will also have to choose your wordings carefully to reach, but not exceed, the desired count.
To illustrate this, here is a famous example of flash fiction. It is a six-word story usually attributed to Ernest Hemingway (although it is unknown whether or not he is the real author).
For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.
This is fiction because it is not a real sale announcement. Although no characters are introduced, we can infer the presence of at least one : a woman who was pregnant but has lost her baby. This is an example of how the elements of the narrative are suggested rather than told.
However, what exactly happened to this woman, what her circumstances were and what is going to happen next are entirely left to the reader's imagination. The least is actually said, the most you can imagine. In the end, such texts contain almost as many different stories as they have readers. This is the power of flash fiction!
Fixed forms of flash fiction
(Wild ALLITERATION appeared!)
Let me introduce two common forms of flash fiction : drabbles and six-word stories.
Drabbles are stories that are exactly, or around, a hundred words long. A hundred words gives you space for some dialogue, minimal description, and/or a small succession of events. The challenge is to count your words, sometimes rephrasing sentences or cutting phrases out to get exactly the right number (if that's what you're going for). In this way, flash fiction is not unlike fixed-form poetry.
Drabbles are often seen in fan fiction. Here are a few examples from dA.
China x Reader - Can't Sleep [Drabble] "Y-Yao?":thumb329991426:
A muffled grunt came from beneath the many covers, signifying that the Chinese man was listening.
"I, um... can't sleep... so can I sleep with you..?" you mumbled. In a swift movement, Yao had gently grabbed your arm and pulled you in with him into the covers.
"You know you don't have to ask, _____, aru..." Yao whispered. A small yawn escaped his lips as he pressed a soft kiss against your forehead, causing a small smile to light up your face.
"No problem, aru."
Pika-Girl ((N x Reader Drabble))
Not many people interest N.
Every Pokemon interests him, just not people.
Until the day he went to annual Unova festival.
There was a girl in a Pikachu outfit.
It was a interesting choice for Unova.
She was handing out flyers.
“Stop Pokemon, Poachers! Donate today.” She was yelling.
N looked around she didn’t seem to be getting much attention.
A stand nearby was selling Pokemon hoodies.
N walked up buying a Zorua sweater.
He walked up to her picking up someone of her flyers on the ground.
“Stop Pokemon Violence today!” N yelled.
She turned towards him smiling.
N smiled back.
The two were the cutest couple there even if they weren’t a couple.
Six-word stories are the most extreme form of flash fiction. The best known example is the famous story I quoted above, which most likely contributed to make the form popular.
A lot can be said or suggested in just six words, but in order to do that, you have to pick every one of them carefully. The story can be a sentence, or not. Using sentences without verbs in a specific style can suggest a context AND save you words in the same time. The quality of a six-word story depends on how powerfully it can suggest more than it says.
Here are a few examples of six-word stories from dA.
Six Word Storymy mother kept smiles in bottles
Six Word Stories~She's far stronger than you think.
I love you: three deadly words.
Be careful; she's a delicate butterfly.
Can't the peace overcome the hate?
You and I, we are perfect.
His lips are warm, for now.
Hold me until dawn's subtle light.
He's rare, don't loosen your grip.
Your lethal words aren't welcome here.
You mean the world to her.
Use more tact the next time.
His heart is torn to pieces.
You only gave her shattered glass.
He had my heart held captive.
Six Word Story - MacabreBlood is washable with cold water.
Six Word Story"Move over."
These two fixed forms are the best known. However, it is entirely possible to write flash fiction outside of existing fixed forms. Any very short piece of fiction qualifies as flash fiction. You can also make up your own form or challenge. For instance, writers have been known to create stories within a 140-character limit, the length of a tweet.
Try creating your own Six-Word Story in the comments below!