Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans


The Definitive Flash: 50 Shades of Flash, Day 1

The Defin­i­tive Flash

Fifty Shades of (Very)
Short Fic­tion


For cer­tain, almost
always, rarely nev­er, flash fic­tion demands a word count, not the out­dat­ed kind
once done by count­ing words per line of type and mul­ti­ply­ing by the num­ber of
lines, but the pre­cise count of tech­nol­o­gy. 100 exact­ly. Not a word more than
750. At some point (500 or less?) it’s microfic­tion, a few words more it’s
sud­den fic­tion, then flash. Or maybe it’s flash then sud­den? At a 1000+ word
count, it’s most like­ly, but not always, going to the short sto­ry edi­tor. Go


In writ­ing of the
one-line poem, Michael McFee argues that it “is not a longer poem con­densed, a
larg­er block of text whit­tled down.” It is, he asserts, “a prod­uct of
delib­er­ate pres­sure, not a casu­al or acci­den­tal cre­ation.” The author must
“con­ceive of his mate­r­i­al that way, must write it that way, and must mean for
the audi­ence to hear and/or read it that way.” The word count require­ment of
flash fic­tion mis­leads authors into think­ing of flash as a short sto­ry told
with few­er words. It might be that. It might be oth­er things, too.


The best flash writ­ers
per­haps set out to write flash fic­tion. They don’t end up with a flash piece
because some­thing longer failed. Maybe some­times they do. I’d like to think
they begin with the idea of brevi­ty, a very tiny space, think of how large­ly
they might fill it.


It’s a cop-out, in the
cur­rent world of post­mod­ern sen­si­bil­i­ties, to say that noth­ing can be defined.
In such a world, bound­aries don’t exist, but what is more bound­ed than flash
fic­tion, con­fined by that con­tin­u­al count of word after word. Flash fic­tion
ticks, like bombs and clocks, aware of its end before its birth. What is flash

It’s this. And more. And


Fifty Words on Fifty
Def­i­n­i­tions of Flash

(def­i­n­i­tions from


      1.   a brief, sud­den burst of bright light: a
flash of light­ning

Out of noth­ing, first
struck and burn­ing out simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, into the mid­dle of things, when the
ho-hum turns extra­or­di­nary, gone “ere one can say it light­ens.” Brief, sud­den,
burst­ing, and bright. Crack­ling with ener­gy. The sto­ry expends itself–and the
world returns as it appeared that brief, unblind­ing moment before.



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