What Is Flash Fiction? Guest Post by Racquel Henry

What is Flash Fiction? 7 Ways to Craft A Quality Flash Fiction Story

Flash is one of the fastest growing genres of fiction. A growing number of literary magazines now accept flash stories, host contests, and there are even some that cater exclusively to flash. What exactly is flash fiction? Simply put, it’s a complete story between 100-1500 words. The number of words that a flash story should have is debatable. I’ve seen so many different variations, but I think any less than 100 and it starts to border more on the micro-fiction side of things. I consider flash to be separate from micro-fiction, but many argue they’re the same. You may also see flash fiction disguised as other names including, short shorts, post card, sudden, and quick.

So you want to write a flash story but don’t know where to start? I’ve compiled a list of seven ways you can get started.

Write about a Small Idea

In a flash fiction piece, you won’t have time to develop the plot or give any back story. Try focusing on a moment in time or a specific event. There should only be one scene.  For instance, if you’re going to right about a love story turned sour, you won’t be able to give us the couple’s history or lead up to the break up. Concentrate on the exact moment they break up, or just choose one character and focus on what they feel at that exact moment.

Get to the Conflict Quickly

Again, time is of the essence so you won’t have a chance to set a reader up for what’s “going” to happen. Think about the name, “Flash Fiction.” Action should happen in a flash. Start the story right at the conflict and if not right away, in the first couple of sentences.

Limit the amount of characters

Just as you have to zero in on your topic, you have to do the same for your characters. There won’t be any time to really develop a character let alone multiple characters. Instead, focus on just one or two characters so that your piece can pack more of a punch.

Write in the Active voice

Seems like a no-brainer, since we are given this type of advice for all fiction. In flash fiction it’s especially true because too many adverbs, adjectives, or details will just slow the story down, not to mention do nothing for your word count.


Alluding to things in flash fiction stories is always a good. If you can allude to an event, place, person, etc. then you won’t have to waste words explaining and describing what’s going on. Besides, what reader doesn’t like a little mystery?

End with a Twist

Many flash fiction pieces end with some sort of twist or surprise ending. Remember, there is limited time to develop sympathy for a character, or reveal an intricate plot. A story can resonate more with the reader if there’s a twist at the end. Be wary of this method though. I’ve seen a lot of magazines and contests specifically ask that your story have more to it than a simple twist at the end.

Be Precise

Don’t use any unnecessary words, they’ll just weigh the story down. When revising your story, cut words that aren’t essential and use contractions wherever you can. Make every word count and choose wisely.

It’s not easy to write a flash fiction piece. The task of writing a complete story in few words can be daunting, but a good challenge can only make you a better writer. I hope everyone will at least give it a try. I’ve also included a few flash fiction literary magazines where you can submit your work. Good luck and Happy Writing!

Every Day Fiction- http://www.everydayfiction.com

Gemini Magazine http://www.gemini-magazine.com

Vestal Review http://www.vestalreview.net


Racquel Henry is a fiction writer residing in Florida. She received a B.A. in Criminology and a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida in 2008. She is currently pursuing an MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Racquel is a reader for the university’s literary magazine, TLR and is also the co-founder and editor of The Black Fox Literary Magazine. She blogs weekly at her own blog, Racquel Writes. She has a slight obsession with books and is in the process of editing her first novel, tentatively titled, What’s in the Fabric.

You can get more on writing from Raquel by checking out her sites. She not only has a fabulous Blog: Racquel Writes , but she is also co-founder of an unbelievable site for writers Black Fox Literary Magazine

I highly recommend you leave a comment, say ‘hi,’ then jump over to one of Racquel’s sites and get to know her. She’s A.Maz.Ing. Matter of fact, while you’re at it, follow her on twitter @RacquelHenry. If you’re a writer and you’re not yet on twitter…have I not broken you? Aren’t you tired of me on your case? *hangs head* Serious.


6 comments to What Is Flash Fiction? Guest Post by Racquel Henry

  • Yay! You featured my “lil sis”! I have to agree–she’s AWESOME! And she’s really smart, as you can tell by her guest post. If you’re not following her blog or on Twitter–what are you all waiting for? :)

  • This is a great post! I wanted to try and write a piece of flash fiction, too. I guess I now have the tools to do that. Great job, lil’ sis!!!!

  • Valerie Haight

    Oooooo!!! So jealous! Ciminology AND Creative Writing! If only I could do that! And flash fiction to boot! I’ve always wondered what it is, this post is awesome! Consider me a follower! Can’t wait for twitter convo’s!! Writer luv to you, I’ll be biting my nails waiting for your novel! Good luck and great interview/post.

  • Wow racs! Great piece! I’m so proud of you! Lo e you and again great job!!!!

  • Maria Rodriguez

    Great job!!!!! This post was great as well as very informative. Keep up the good work and I too can’t wait to read your novel.

  • Thanks for the comments everyone! And Julie, thanks again…for EVERYTHING! :)

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