I was writing it before I knew what it was.
In college I took a writing course not for credit, just to get a break and do some fun writing in the middle of all the academic stuff that college entails. When given “permission” to write whatever came out, what I ended up creating was a series of what the instructor called “vingettes,” but what I would call now “flash nonfiction.”
When I started doing Nanowrimo in April of 2015 in what would eventually lead to this podcast, it happened again. I created four main characters and just started writing stories about them. Almost all of those came out under 2,000 words, and most were somewhere between 450 and 750. This is when I really started researching what flash fiction is.
I quickly learned that flash fiction is in the eye of the beholder…how it gets defined depends in large part on who is defining it. I love this piece from The Review Review where they talk to flash fiction editors about it. You can see that while they are all definitely talking about the same thing, they all see it differently and they all look for different things in it.
Flash Fiction Online is a great journal to check out for examples of the form. I particularly like their Classic Flash section that reveals how not new this form is. Hemingway did it. Kafka did it. We always think we are new, but really nothing is.
It’s also important not to forget flash nonfiction. Brevity does that probably as well as anyone, and my prediction is this form will grow.
The great news about flash is that it fits really nicely into our digital world. When you look carefully, it’s everywhere. People put it on their blogs, on Twitter, on facebook…of course there are duds out there, but there are also brilliant pieces of tiny fiction just waiting to be discovered. I hope you find some today!