Eliminating the unnecessary might be the single most important aspect of writing an interesting flash. The more you think about it the more you realize that much of flash fiction revolves around this very element of subtraction.
- In the middle of things, in media res. Don't waste time with backstory. Give the reader action, desire, conflict, immediacy.
- Rid your flash of needless characters, words, and dialogue. Too many characters in such a short space causes confusion. It's probably best not to add more than three characters to any particular piece. Take on the mentality of a poet. Every word has its own value. A piece is not complete until all the words function in excellence. Treat your dialogue like you treat your narrative. Have your characters say what they need to say. Don't have them exchange pleasantries.
- Perhaps one of the most important things to eliminate in flash is the ordinary. Actually the ordinary can stay in your flash piece but it must coincide with the bizarre. But even here that might not be the right word, as it is more about the noteworthy, memorable, or curious situation. If the situation is ordinary, then the reaction must be abnormal. Without the peculiar or unique the story becomes bland and forgettable. Most importantly, avoid clichés! Avoid clichés! Because of the limited space the clichéd phrase will really stand out. A cliché in a flash is like ten pages straight of clichés in a novel.
- Don't tell what is implied, so that you're not reiterating what your writing has already shown. Reiteration stops the forward moment of the narrative. Your job as writer is to keep readers interested, not to retell them what they already know. Always attempt to provide something new in the sentence that reshapes the understanding of the story.
- Do away with titles that don't add to the story; the title should serve as another part of the story. Think of the title as the first opening or the first hook.
- Last of all, try to make the unnecessary necessary if you can. Flash is a great place to experiment with your writing.
About the Author
Benjamin Grossman, an MFA in Creative Writing candidate at Rosemont College, writes screenplays and novels, as well as poetry and flash
fiction. He experiments with mixing different writing genres, but prefers fiction. In his free time, Benjamin enjoys listening to music, reading
history, running, and watching sports.
For further reading, check out FlashFiction.Net's suggested readings of flash fiction and prose poetry collections, anthologies, and craft books, by clicking here.