I write flash fiction. It is a relatively new genre, differentiated predominately by its brevity. A flash piece should generally be less than 1,000 words. Most stories are in the 300-800 word range.
Flash fiction can feel constricting. The writer must construct a narrative arc in a very brief amount of space.
In other ways, flash fiction is incredibly liberating. Since the story’s time is short, there is no room for extra words or details. Characters often have no physical descriptions. If a setting is mentioned, it is described in the briefest detail.
Stories also don’t have to adhere to having a beginning, middle, and end. Flash fiction often drops you right into the middle of things. En media res, as the smart kids say. Conflicts develop quickly. Resolutions are messy, if offered at all. Often, the reader is left hanging, free to interpret what happens next.
There is also more of an experimentation with form. Flash fiction walks the line between a story and a poem. Language is more lyrical. Imagery is potent and often fantastical. Flash fiction stories often make you feel like you woke up in the middle of someone else’s dream.
These are the stories I like the best. The dream stories. The stories that ride that line, ping-ponging between poetry and narrative. The stories that don’t spare a single word and leave you gaping, gasping, and wanting always, more.
Below are some of those boundary-jumping stories.
“Remembering How Beams of Steel Disintegrated While Whole Sheets of Paper Fluttered Down Like So Much Ash and Dust to the Street” by Catherine Averill from Paper Darts
“I Am Going to Cook a Quiche in My Easy-Bake Oven and You Are Going to Like It.” by Roxane Gay from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
“Lost Luster” by Kayla Haas from Nano Fiction
This week’s video is “It’s Oh So Quiet” by Bjork, another artist who likes to play with boundaries.