So, back to the subject of Flash Fiction! (You can stop clapping now, I’m trying to get back on track, really.)
Over the last year of doing a weekly piece of flash fiction, I’ve come up with the following list of guidelines that I follow. By no means am I saying these are the rules for flash fiction, these just happen to be mine. Many of these are
Yank the Reader In
You only have a very limited number of words and you don’t have time to coax your reader into your world slowly and carefully. Instead you need to write words that reach out from the screen and yank the reader in. This can be strong action, emotion or even description but it MUST be compelling.
Keep it Simple
If you have a complex story idea, only use part of it for a flash fiction. There isn’t enough room to get really complex so focus on one aspect, one person or one relationship.
Be Strict on Word Count
If you set a word count limit, stick to it. It can be a challenge but it will actually teach you a lot about how to condense or tighten things so you can squeak in just one more paragraph or one more description.
Don’t Stop with a Whimper
Either write a true flash fiction (complete the story in the allotted word count) or leave the reader with a hook. Whatever you do, don’t just peter out and trail off.
Be Willing to Experiment
Friday Flashes are a great place to experiment with ideas, concepts and characters. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. You can hone great new skills by playing with them in these small flash projects.
Pay Attention to Feedback
Watch the reactions your various pieces of flash fiction get from readers. This is a great way to discover what resonates with your audience and you can use that information to help hone your other work.