But today, I want to focus on some fundamental tips for writing flash fiction.
Cause it ain’t easy! For Flash Fiction Online, stories must be between 500 and 1000 words. Whew! Those are some tight restrictions, and that’s not a lot of space for your story. But as Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” (Hamlet).
You can sum-up flash fiction in that word, brevity. It’s critical to understand that flash is a unique medium, and it requires a different skillset than other storytelling formats.
Here are thirteen specific tricks (and a writing exercise) about how to write flash fiction (including insanely short stories).*
1. Take out all unnecessary words.
Practice on Twitter. I kid you not, and I speak from experience. Nothing shows you how to whittle down a sentence to the key elements better than Twitter. Pretend you only get one single solitary tweet to get the idea across. Can you do it?
Try this writing exercise and redo this sentence:
Pretend you only get one
single solitarytweet to get the idea acrossconvey your idea.
Pretend you only get one tweet to convey your idea.
Look, I just saved 3 words by editing that sentence. That’s GOLD in flash. It adds up, people!
2. You don’t need all those adjectives and adverbs.
Just use stronger nouns and verbs to do all the heavy lifting. For example, don’t say ‘walk leisurely’ when you can say ‘saunter’. Don’t say ‘small dog’ when you can say ‘Chihuahua’. Your specificity will build a better story with a smaller word count. The exception is for dialogue tags. You’re better off just using “said”, as other verbs related to speech tend to be distracting.
3. Pick a key emotion to color the story.
Readers love it when they feel something.
Caution: do not manipulate the reader with melodrama.
[melodrama: noun. a dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization.]
You’ve gotta earn those feels! And try ending in a different emotional place than where you start. See More . . .