Flash Fiction

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I first encountered a style of writing known as flash fiction when reading the customer reviews on an e-commerce gourmet food site. They were restricted to six words only, like "THIS JUST MIGHT CURE CHRONIC CRANKINESS" or "SWEET AND SALTY, THERE'S NOTHING BETTER".

The reviews above were inspired by flash fiction, a style of writing that uses minimal words (usually 1000 words or fewer) to tell a story. There is no required length but brevity is the key. This literary style has been called the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette) and other names including sudden fiction, micro-story, pocket-size story, postcard fiction, and short short story. Author Ernest Hemingway famously used this "short, short story" form in his six-word novel, "For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn".

As you can see by Hemingway's fine example, it is a challenge to write flash fiction because every word used must be essential to tell a complete story.

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