I have joined a writing group in the area of Dumfries and Galloway where I live and the most recent session was about flash fiction. I thought you might be interested in the thoughts I submitted following the session.
Flash fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. The standard, generally-accepted length of a flash fiction piece is 1,000 words or less. By contrast, a short-short measures 1,001 words to 2.500 words, and a traditional short story measures 2,501 to 7,500 words. A novelette runs from 7,501 words to 17,500, a novella 17,501 words to 40,000 words, and a novel 40,001 words and up.
Other names for flash fiction include sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story and postcard fiction.
The term "flash fiction" may have originated from a 1992 anthology of that title.
As the editors said in their introduction, their definition of a "flash fiction" was a story that would fit on two facing pages of a typical digest-sized literary magazine, or about 750 words.
However, it could be argued that flash fiction has roots going back to Aesop's Fables and practitioners have included Chekhov, Kafka and Kurk Vonnegut Jr.
The key thing to remember is that flash fiction is a story with all the elements of storytelling, character, plot, sense of place etc just with less of it. It’s about choosing what is really important to a story and as such is a good discipline for all writers to learn It also has a beginning, a middle and an end.
The principle of telling a complete story in short form, taken to the extreme, is illustrated by the six-word flash fiction story, attributed to Ernest Hemingway but probably not by him, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn”.
New life has been brought to flash fiction by the Internet, with its demand for short, concise works. A ready market for flash-fiction works is ezines; however, flash fiction is also published by many print magazines.
There are various types of flash fiction. Examples include:
55 Fiction are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long. A Drabble is a story of exactly 100 words, excluding title. A 69er is a story of exactly 69 words, again excluding the title. The 69er was a regular feature of the Canadian literary magazine NFG, which featured a section of such stories in each issue.
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