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Flash vs. Substance: The Art of Writing Flash Fiction

Hey you, lover of brevity and believer of the age-old adage: less is more. Welcome to the lean, mean, story-packed world of flash fiction. No, we’re not just talking stories that are short. We’re talking stories that pack a novel’s weight in a fraction of the words. Let’s delve!

1. Size Matters, Kind of: Flash fiction is typically under 1,500 words, with some tales as concise as 100 words, termed ‘drabbles.’ New to the form? Electric Literature has an insightful piece on why mastering this medium is crucial for every writer.

2. Every Word’s a Gem: Trim the fat, but ensure every word sparkles. It’s about crafting lean prose without compromising on substance. Need advice? The Review Review offers a splendid rundown on selecting your words with precision.

3. In Media Res (In the Thick of Things): No lengthy intros here. Dive straight into action. For some quality examples of how to start in the thick of things, check out stories featured in Flash Fiction Online.

4. Implied Depth: Your canvas might be small, but the world you paint can hint at expansive landscapes beyond the frame. Not sure what I mean? This post from Writing-World offers an in-depth take on creating depth in brevity.

5. Twist and Shout: The best flash fiction often concludes with a punch—either an emotional gut-hit or a surprise twist. Perfecting this is an art. Writer’s Edit provides an exhaustive guide to nailing that end.


  • Q: Can flash fiction have multiple characters or sub-plots?
    • A: While it’s possible, remember you’re working with limited real estate. Every addition should serve the story’s core.
  • Q: How do I know if my flash fiction is ‘complete’?
    • A: It should resonate. If it lingers in the reader’s mind, provoking thought or emotion even after it’s done, you’re on track.

For those wanting to dive deeper into the universe of flash fiction, I cannot recommend this extensive piece on crafting flash fiction from MasterClass enough.

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