On Flash Fiction, Brevity - and the Immediacy of the Hook

How many writers don't struggle with eliminating content? The answer is, very few. Most Creative Writing teachers and professors will tell you that one of the hardest necessities is to identify excessive content and eliminate it.

This is why it is so fascinating with talented individuals are able to relive events, construct poems, and tell stories in very few sentences or words.  It's the lucky and talented few with this ability who have started a movement known as Flash Fiction.  Different scholars, authors and school will define flash writing by differing lengths - (some defining a "flash" piece as a story of a thousand words or less, others, by two or three sentences).

The Internet visibility of this genre has increased in the past few years, but the practice of FF reaches back further in time than you might think. History, abundant with the jewels of epic Greek poetry and great American Novels, is also sprinkled with the minuscule gems of Flash Fiction.

A more modern trend is also called "hint fiction" where the omission is also a tool used to stimulate the readers own imagination and decision making. Author Robert Swartwood  recently released  Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, in celebration of this mode of Flash Fiction.

A historical (and extreme) example of Flash Fiction, comes from the master of American Literature himself. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway, known for his ability to draw in readers with his uncannily sparse, yet moving prose, once won a bet that he could create a short story using the fewer words than his peers. Hemingway was able to do it in six.

The story?

baby booties on cutcaster.com
"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Whew. That's some powerful stuff. . .Gut-wrenching.
Now, Hemingway scholars are hesitant to confirm that the author penned this brief anecdote, as the "story" was never formally published and the original material never found. However most of people familiar with the author would be quick to notice that "baby shoes" is by its very nature, quintessentially Hemingway. It's very structure -economical,  and tone - bleak  are characteristics hat are definitive (or perhaps, derivative) of Mr. Hemingway.

Admiration for "baby shoes" does not see to quell with the talk of origin, and neither does Flash Fiction. That said, here are few small treasures, I hope you'll enjoy - don't worry, they won't
 be too time consuming...

She would always sleep with her husband and with another man in the course of the same day, and then the rest of the day, for whatever was left to her of that day, she would exploit by incanting, “French film, French film.”

linktoarticleplease2.gif (350×230)
Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
- Eileen Gunn


Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
- Margaret Atwood

This was becoming an obsession, to put it mildly: he began to wonder if treasured memories and peak experiences could be alchemistically distilled into fifty words. Might it be possible to shoehorn an entire life's story into one of those tiny little boxes?
The answer, of course, was no.
-Alan C. Bird

He read his obituary with confusion.
- Steven Meretzky
It’s behind you! Hurry before it
- Rockne S. O’Bannon

Let me know what you think, and hey, if you come up with a piece yourself - send it to me, and I'll post it! I promise, I'm dying to share your raw talents as well!

For your further enjoyment, check out these web pages in celebration of Flash Fiction:

east of the web logo
Pif Magazine





Popular Posts