I'm excited to be swapping posts with the awesome Juneta Key today. Please enjoy her excellent article about flash fiction, and hop on over to her blog to get a peek into my home and find out the little everyday things which helped inspire the Totem series.
Thank you so much, Christine, for inviting me to guest post on your blog today and post swap. You ask me.
What makes a good flash fiction piece?
To answer that question, we need to understand what flash fiction is about. It is a short story under 1000 words, generally right at or around 500 words. Flash fiction is the length of one short scene with emotional IMPACT using shocks, twists, irony, OR something deeply meaningful to end it.
Anything less than 500 that is Micro Fiction, which has several sub-categories, or anything more than 1000 words which would still be considered a short story, not flash fiction. The purpose of micro fiction is to express interesting ideas or tell a brief story in as few words as possible differing it from flash which depicts a scene or a “moment or realization” in the life of your character.
Flash fiction should possess all the qualities of story and scenes with the presentation of character with one problem. (hook & inciting incident)
At least 1 or 2 possibly conflicts to carry the story forward. (action) (brevity)
And a brief ending, creating an overall satisfying capsule of the story. The short word limit only has room to capture a meaningful or powerful moment in the character’s life.
Flash fiction should give the reader some satisfaction with its ending. The more complete and self-contained the story the better.
I try to create a “semblance” of the 3-arc structure when I write flash fiction keeping it loose with word limits.
One or two descriptive words for character e.g. nervous typist, sarcastic officer, disillusion magician
One or two descriptive words for setting, e.g. windy sidewalk = city, snowy incline = anything from hill to Everest or ski resort, sweltering heat = anything from the beach to desert, rolling hills = countryside/farmland. The setting can be woven into the conflict with descriptive words. (middle)
The key is to weave in descriptive and action words to create emotion, forward action, intriguing and interesting conclusions. Flash is so brief the most you hope for is to evoke emotion in the reader or leave questions and possibilities.
Remember conflict= action taken, has consequence for the character: It is not just a sequence of unrelated events.
Make the character responsible for his choices and actions.
Action = reaction BUT conflict has real consequence for the character to deal with or accept, a lot of times with compounding effects.
I prefer flash fiction that engages me, evocates reaction, thought, curiosity, irony, and/or the shock factor.
The shock factor must be meaningful, or I won’t read that author again. It must intrigue or raise a question, not make me feel bad or disappointed. It must be consistent with the tone of the story.
StorytimeBlog Hop flash fiction by several different authors in 2015 & 2016
Dragon Smoke & Wind by Karen Lynn (This one is one of my favorite from July 2016 blog hop.