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What is Flash Fiction?

What is Flash Fiction? Plus, 6 Places to Submit Flash Fiction!
What is Flash Fiction - represented by a lighting strike.
What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is defined as very short fiction, usually less than 1000 words. In some cases, less than 500, 300 or even 100 words. 

Sometimes people call it “short short story” or “micro-fiction.” Other names include postcard story, fast fiction, or minute fiction. I once had a prose poem published as a “shorty story”.

Whatever name you give it, it’s challenging to write.

In a micro-story, it’s important to make every word and sentence earn it’s keep. When writing a piece of very short fiction, keep the idea of movement in mind. Every word should progress the story, there should be no repetition of information, and every sentence should reveal something new. When writing flash, stay focused on propelling the story forward – concentrate on the hook, the climax, and the conclusion.

Flash fiction should have a plot (but make it a simple plot – don’t have too much going on), character(s), a conflict, setting, and a hook. It’s a very short story, but fundamentally, it’s still a story and as such, it should have all the standard elements of a story. To find out what the elements of a short story are, read our recent post “Elements of a Story.” Make sure your flash piece has a beginning, a middle and an end – it should be a stand-alone story, not a part of a series.

Common words used to describe these kinds of stories include: intensity, tension, powerful, strong, and tight. Micro-fiction often starts at the flashpoint of a story – it opens with tension and intensity to capture a readers interest right away.

Some of the best flash fiction (and flash nonfiction) comes from the authors personal experiences – micro-stories are often filled with intense emotion and the best way to bring emotion to life on the page is by writing about what you know. Think of a flash fire that burns bright then burns out – write the biggest story you can in the fewest words possible.

6 Places to Submit Flash Fiction
Challenge yourself! Here are 6 literary publications that accept micro-fiction.

1. Pulp Literature: A digest sized magazine that offers the “Bumblebee” and the “Hummingbird” flash fiction Contests. Both are offered annually.

2. Nunum: A literary journal devoted to blending flash fiction and art. They accept fiction of up to 500 words.

3. Geist: Dedicated to “the weird and wonderful from the world of words,” they run an annual postcard story contest.

4. Filling Station: Founded in 1993 and dedicated to supporting emerging writers, they accept “flash fiction, postcard fiction, [and] short fiction.”

5. Flash Fiction Magazine: An online publication that publishes a daily flash story. They accept stories between 300 and 1000 words.

6. Dreamers Creative Writing: That’s us! We accept micro-fiction and nonfiction year round and we also run an annual flash fiction and flash nonfiction contest.

Check out this guide to literary submissions. For more writing resources, subscribe to our mailing list

If you liked this post, then you might also like “Elements of a Story Explained” and “What is the Plot of a Story?