I’ve just finished a flash fiction piece and I’m polishing it up. I started out trying to keep it at 500 words, but I couldn’t. Right now, the word count is 745. I suppose I could cut it some, for the story has a number of adjectives and that writer’s no-no, a few “ing” words. Adverbs. Not more than two, and I’m leaving them in.
Here’s what expert and writer Pamelyn Casto has to say about Flash Fiction:
Other names for it include short-short stories, sudden, postcard, minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction. In France such works are called nouvelles. In China this type of writing has several interesting names: little short story, pocket-size story, minute-long story, palm-sized story, and my personal favorite, the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette). What’s in a name? That which we call flash fiction, by any other name would read as bright.
When I couldn’t reach my original goal of 500 words, I thought I might expand the story into a longer work. But I was able to create what I set out to do – I think – in less than a thousand words. Still flash fiction. There are two main characters in the story. I wanted to show one of the women as conniving, uncaring, and dishonest. The other woman is kind and pleasant. I had to show their characters in little flashes of actions and descriptions.
I submit stories to Woman’s World with hope for an acceptance one day. I never thought of their stories as being in the flash fiction category, but they are. The magazine accepts Romance stories of 800 words; Mini-Mysteries, 700 words. If accepted, the editors cut and cut and cut and take out at least a hundred words in each genre. When I write a story for WW, I think, “What in the world can they possibly take out?” But I guarantee if my work ever does appear in the magazine, some of my precious darlings will be missing. I’m good at “writing tight.” I know how to edit descriptions and to reveal character with a little dialogue.
Just because flash fiction is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to write. The writer has to develop the characters so they’re “real” to the reader. No matter how short, the story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. Often there is conflict that has to be resolved.
I would love to post my new story here to see what some of my readers think, but then it would be “published,” and I want to seek a market for it. The working title is “Grand Larceny and Petty Thieves.”
I’ll keep you posted.