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Flash Fiction

January 13, 2013

It was in 2011 that I really got into flash fiction (FF).  Here was a type of fiction much to my taste that was fun to write and easy to squeeze in between other things.

“Flashes” are simply very short stories.  And very short stories of various sorts have been around a long time with Hemingway, Kafka and many other big names having had a go.  The term “Flash Fiction” is fairly recent, though, dating back only twenty years or so.

Opinions differ as to length with some editors setting the cap at 500 words or fewer whilst others will accept flashes of up to 1000 words.  Stories of 300 words or fewer are often termed “Micro Fiction”. 

Some writers and editors insist that a flash should be a complete story with a beginning, middle and end.  Others believe a flash should focus on a single event.  Some insist on a twist-ending; others prefer a lower-key closure.

FF goes under various names including “Sudden Fiction” and “Postcard Fiction”.  But my favourite is the Chinese term “Smoke Long” – i.e. a story that can be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette!

Two present day flash fiction writers I particularly enjoy are Calum Kerr and David Gaffney.

I recently joined the Linkedin Flash Fiction group and here is my introductory post from last Sunday, 6th January:

 

FLASH FICTION 

 

Creatively, I inhabit the prose/poetry borderland, that zone where flash fiction and prose-poetry meet and merge.

I attend BLAZE poetry events run by our wonderful Northwich poet Angela Topping, but read mostly flash fiction.  I contribute regularly on the Linkedin Poetry and Literature site.  And I post both prose and poetry on my blog, ‘Grandy’s Landing’.

Practically all my short fiction, whether for adults or children, is intended for reading aloud as well as on the page.  I read aloud as I write to make sure I’ve caught the right tone, with a rhythm, a pulse, to carry the piece along.

With adults’ flash fiction, I aim to deliver a quick hit with the surface story followed by a slow burn as the underlying broader story seeps out from between the lines.  Here my intention is to mirror real life, in which everything has a broader context and significance.  I hope my characters are credible as they’re often drawn from life – composite creations, though, rather than portraits.  I also seek to convey, almost subliminally, a sense of place, a certain atmosphere, perhaps a period flavour… The prose should be stripped down with every word earning its keep, yet still retain my style.

Much as I enjoy novels, I love short fiction for its brevity and punch.  My New Year’s resolution for 2013 is simply to produce the best work I’m capable of in the field.  My belief is that all of us so doing are contributing to the revival of fiction in the short form.

~~

Copyright © Paul Beech 2013

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2 Comments
  1. Hi Paul, happy to see a post from you, and then I stumbled upon this post. I smiled because I just had a flash fiction accepted for the book “A Quick Read” it was an A-Z challenge and mine was one of the stories that was accepted. All of the stories had to have a beginning, middle and end. Quite interesting. First time I tried this. You can find it at https://www.createspace.com/5169439. If you don’t want to get the book, just email me and I can send you a copy of my story. Still loving your work.

    Warm Regards,

    Patricia

    • Dear Pat, how wonderful that you’ve had a story included in C.A.Simonson’s newly-published anthology ‘A Quick Read’ – CONGRATULATIONS! I’ve never written an alphabetic “flash” myself and I’m most impressed you met the challenge successfully. If you’d kindly email me your story, I’d love to read it.
      Fond regards always,
      Paul

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