January 16th, 2009
Friday Flash How To: What is it?

What is “Flash Fiction”?
“Flash Fiction” is a term that is thought to have originated with a 1992 anthology of the same name by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka. The definition given by the editors of that anthology were that the story had to be limited to two facing pages of a digest-sized magazine – so about 750 words.

There is, however, no universally accepted length for a flash fiction but most top out at 2,000 words. The common length stated seems to be 250-1,000 words.

Flash fiction is, however, supposed to be more of a complete story in the allotted length. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Of course, this is not what I do :)

What I Do
When I came up with the idea of turning a bunch of the random concepts and characters that appeared in my brain into little flash fiction tidbits, I read a bit about flash fiction but decided to do my own version. I like setting the rules, you know :)

I knew I was constantly afraid of losing some of these great ideas I’d had and I also wanted to give readers a taste of what I could write. As a reader, I always liked seeing these from authors I read and had often bought books based on a short I’d read for free. I’m a pretty new author, so it might even help people come to my blog and learn about me.

First I decided that I wouldn’t focus on any particular genre – the story could be whatever the story decided to be. I also wouldn’t let myself spend more than two hours on it (I usually spent far less).

The biggest decision was that I would not force myself to make it a complete story. A partial, a start, even a scene was fine for my purposes. Yes, this violates one of the common definitions of flash fiction – umm, sorry….

Then I decided my word count was going to be 750 words at the most. I have violated that a time or two but it seemed like a do-able figure that wouldn’t take forever to write and, if I sold a story based on one of these flash fiction bits, it would be under the typical 1000 words publishers start to consider as “previously published.”

I wasn’t too worried about having other people join the effort (though some did) but asked permission to promo it on a few groups that I belong to. I decided Friday would be the day and I’d call it the Friday Flash.

With all that, I set out to write my first Friday Flash. Check back next week to see what happened and what I’ve learned to date about writing these very short tidbits.

Remember that there is a contest for people who comment on all the Friday Flash How To posts. The winner will be by random drawing from all entries with a max of one entry per person per post. Winner gets to give me a set of prompts to see what Flash Fiction I can come up with based on it. Ask questions, add your own notes, I’m easy!

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