Flash fiction is a demanding art form. I taught it at the University of Pittsburgh as a teaching assistant (I was a graduate student) to undergrads in 2005. I was teaching a course in how to write short stories, but I was really teaching my students how to write flash fiction.
Yes, by that time I was addicted to flash fiction.
Flash fiction won me the fellowship that allowed me to attend the graduate writing program at Pitt; but it’s one thing to write flash fiction and quite another thing to teach other people how to write it.
I hope my students learned as much from me as I learned from them.
Here are five tips on how to write flash fiction.
- Description should be as intentional as possible. What do I mean by that? In the best flash fiction description should serve a higher purpose than just describing something. If you write that a woman is wearing a red dress that fact should say something about her personality or something about what else is going on in the story. See what I mean?
- Dialogue should not only characterize the speaker but it should efficiently move the story to its resolution.
- What a character says and does is the best way to characterize that character. Don’t write that the character is lonely. Have her do or say something that makes the reader thing, she’s really lonely.
- If you write a story about sex, the sex does not make it a story. Something has to be resolved once and for all in the story for it to be a story.
- Usually, not always but usually, a flash fiction story is so short that you should stick to one point of view.
These are not hard, fast rules. They are merely guidelines to keep you out of trouble; or to make the writing of flash fiction easier and more understandable. Can a writer write a great flash fiction story by breaking these guidelines? Of course, but it seldom happens. Can a writer write great flash fiction by following these guidelines. You bet he or she can!
Keep reading and keep writing that flash fiction.
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- Why Would Anyone Want To Write Flash Fiction? (pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com)
- Flash Fiction Writers, You Can Write About Anything (pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com)
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