The Definition of Flash Fiction

What exactly IS flash fiction?

That’s an excellent question. And depending on who you ask, you’ll get a very different answer.

What is flash fiction?

For Flash Fiction Online purposes, we consider flash fiction to be a very short story with a complete character arc written within the confines of 500-1000 words. We know that’s asking a lot (and that’s part of why we’re putting together this series) but for a skillful writer, it can be done.

Flash has a few defining characteristics.


How many words you can squeeze into that tiny story depends on the publication you’re submitting to. For our purposes, we have a tight cutoff limit of 500-1000 words.

If you think that’s a hard and fast limit, visit the folks over at [100wordstory]. They’re not messing around. It’s 100 words on the nose, or you’re out of there faster than I can hit the Popcorn button on my microwave.

Or based on the infamous “baby shoes,” try out a Six-word story at Narrative.

NPR hosts a three-minute fiction contest requiring entries of 600 words or less.

Cease, Cows will give you up to 1500 words.

Finally, if you’d like a challenge, aim for 100 characters and compose a “twabble” aka a Tweeted drabble.  You can submit your 100-word stories as a drabble along with your twabble to Drabblecast.

But if you’d like to submit to us, you’ll have to either flesh out or trim down that story to slide nicely between our 500-1000 word guidelines.


Now, if you thought that a small word count meant a smaller narrative bar to climb, I’m going to disillusion you right now. Flash fiction is still a story, and every good story has a beginning, middle, and end, even if that format is experimental.

But wait, you’re saying, what about vignettes or slice-of-life stories?

Well, that’s where it gets a bit murky.

See More . . .

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