View Full Version : Flash Fiction?

07-11-2004, 06:07 AM
Can anyone tell me the definition of "flash fiction?"

aka eraser
07-11-2004, 06:20 AM
I'll take a stab, though I'm fairly sure it's been addressed in earlier posts here by those who know better than I.

It's very short fiction, under 2,000 words (I think). I've seen some calls for flash fiction of under 100 words.

In a couple of online writing communities I've been involved with there would also be a time limit put on it; 1 hour for short (500 word) flash; one day for longer pieces.

If I'm off by much someone will be along to correct me.

Lori Basiewicz
07-11-2004, 06:38 AM
If you're looking at guidelines that mention flash, they are talking about the length. As eraser indicated, it is very short. Although there are general lengths to define what is flash and what is not, everyone's numeric definitions vary slightly.

07-11-2004, 11:16 AM
I've seen it defined as any story under 5000 words.

Betty W01
07-11-2004, 11:20 AM
Wow, here I am writing flash fiction pieces and didn't even know it. Maybe if I write enough of them and string them together, it'll be a book!!


07-11-2004, 12:20 PM
Writing Flash Fiction
By G. W. Thomas

With the advent of the Internet, editors are looking for shorter works, more easily read on a computer screen. The current term is "flash fiction", a tale between 300-1000 words long. Longer than micro-fiction (10-300 words) but shorter than traditional short stories (3000-5000 words preferred by most magazines), flash fiction is usually a story of a single act, sometimes the culmination of several unwritten events.

07-11-2004, 07:14 PM
There are differeet length called 'flash'. I tend to see it in the 500-1000 word range. 1000+ just seems like a short story to me.

07-11-2004, 08:50 PM
Generally speaking, it's all a matter of length. Definitions vary slightly from magazine to magazine, but still remaim fairly standard.

Micro fiction--under one hundred words.
Flash Fiction--100 to 1,000 words.
Short short--1,000 to 2,000 words.
Short story-- 2,000 to 7,500 words.
Novelette--7,500 to 15,000 words. (Up to 17,500 words at some publications.
Novella-- 15,000 to 30,000 words.
Novel--anything over 30,000 words. (Anything over 40,000 at some publishers.)

These have been pretty much the standard definitions for many, many years, but you always have to look at individual guidelines and read issues of magazines to be certain the editor conforms to these standards.

07-11-2004, 09:36 PM
Terrific! I knew that it meant short, but didn't know just how short . . .

Thanks to everyone who gave input-


07-11-2004, 10:21 PM

I enjoyed this book greatly, it might interest you:

"Fast Fiction" by Roberta Allen

07-12-2004, 02:14 AM
Thanks April-
Very thoughtful of you!

07-12-2004, 02:37 AM
You're very welcome Cate

09-06-2004, 11:39 AM
Never heard of flash fiction, but I doubt I could do it. Most of the stories I've written that were below 10 pages were complete crap. I recently threw together an 8-page story and then showed it to two people to get their opinion on it, but the more I thought of it, the more I thought the story was just plain stupid. So claerly I wouldn't be very successful writing flash fiction. Most of my better stories are 20 pages in length or longer.

In any case, I read somewhere in the afterword of Stephen King's "Different Seasons" that a short story is 20,000 words or less, a novel is 40,000 words or more, and a novella is between 20,000 and 40,000 words, so I've always gone with those definitions. Some don't, and maybe they are right. I don't know; maybe I'm just more of a novella writer than novel or short story writer.:shrug

09-07-2004, 09:59 PM
I did some research on flash fiction and micro fiction last night and found some links to look through.

Here's one for flash fiction:
www.fictionfactor.com/gue...ction.html (http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/flashfiction.html)

Very difficult type of story to write, at least for someone like me, though most of my stories are pretty long. But this article is a pretty good description of what a flash fiction is.

The question is, would these stories be of much literary value, or are they merely blueprints for a story that would hopefully have a little bit more substance. I would think it is very difficult to rush through a story of this nature and have anything of great substance or anything particularly memorable. I suppose the advantage to this would be that you don't have to care about the characters because it is so short that it wouldn't take you more than five minutes to read.

Taking some of the things he said, make the reader guess until the end, I would think that that would be one of the objectives to any kind of story, whether it be really short, or a huge novel of over a thousand pages. And then he mentioned the twist at the end, which might be a good idea, though in the example he gave, I'm not sure that the ending is such a twist because the fairytale goat man eating the guy was certainly a possibility all along in the story, so therefore not entirely unexpected. Twists are generally unexpected, wouldn't you say? I did try my hand at a flash story last night, though not sure how good of a job I did. I don't normally write stories like that and the style is somewhat different from the one I usually write in. But it was a good experimentation to say the least, I suppose, which I have been doing a lot of lately with my fiction.

Moving onto micro fiction, which is a story of only a few hundred words. Even tougher.

Found this article on the topic:
www.pifmagazine.com/SID/313/ (http://www.pifmagazine.com/SID/313/)

Given the examples in this article, I'd have to say that I would agree with what someone is quoted as saying in the article, that these are more along the lines of being situations and not stories. Instead, they could set up to become stories if more is added to them, but I wouldn't consider them stories in and of themselves. Flash fiction could be considered a story--it might be very difficult to make a GOOD story with flash fiction, but they are still stories, nonetheless (most of the time anyway). Micro fiction appears to be a cryptic two or three-sentence blurb summarizing a situation someone is in, however, such as the one where the last person alive hears a knock on the door. Interesting stuff, perhaps funny, and fictional, but not sure if these are story material in and of themselves.

Oh well, just a few thoughts I had while looking into how these kinds of stories work.

09-12-2004, 11:09 PM
I have been writing 500-1000 word stories of comic book ideas & characters for several years. I put them away until I had time to go back into creating comic books again.

All this time I never knew I was writing flash fiction and didn't realize it..



09-14-2004, 10:57 PM
Novel length is over 30,000 words? It seems like I've gotten numerous definitions of novel length, and this is the shortest yet..

I'm certainly not discouraged. This means I've reached novel length and didn't even know it!

Awesome. (;

10-13-2004, 10:06 PM
I'm in the same boat, pal.

Mine will probably run about 50,000 - 55,000.

I'm just glad someone's been willing to give us some numbers, rather than the usual, "It depends on the publisher."

(Of course it depends on the publisher, but ballpark figures help immensely.)

10-14-2004, 01:25 AM
I think what most of us are considering when we think about long word counts is what can take a cover and make us shine without the inconsiderate elbowing of other writers in a magazine setting.

OUtside of that, Julie, judging by your photo I'd say you need to at least get passed teething before you try something beyond bubbling generic parental names.

10-14-2004, 01:56 AM
Reviewing my last post. I need to watch my phrasing. What I just posted was straight stuff--nothing more.

10-14-2004, 05:19 AM
These lengths have been standard since long before I was born, but with novel length I said 30,000. This is true in every genre except science fiction. In science fiction, a novel is anything over 40,000 words.

Many explain this difference by the room sf magazine editors liked to use for serializing novellas, and this is likely the answer.

There was a time in the fifties and sixties when it was common to find novels ranging from 30,000-50,000 words taking up the bulk of the paperback racks.