What Is Flash Fiction?

WD editor Moriah Richard outlines the short short form and answers the question, “What is flash fiction?”
Author:
Publish date:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

You may have heard of this six-word short short story; it’s often attributed to Ernest Hemmingway, though his authorship of the piece has never been confirmed.

Six words. So many emotions.

This is the goal of flash fiction—also referred to as micro-fiction, short short stories, or sudden fiction. Instead of focusing on plot or character development, the writer instead focuses on the narrative’s movement. Every sentence, every word, should reveal something to the reader that we did not know before. It should also hint at a larger backstory than what’s revealed on the page.

While flash fiction has been around for centuries (think of Aesop’s Fables or other collections of folk tales), it has recently garnered a lot of attention from writers and publishers. Despite this, the form itself isn’t well-defined. The general consensus among writers and publishers is that anything between 5 and 1,500 words is flash fiction.

Beyond that, flash fiction is employed by writers of all genres; horror, science fiction, fantasy, thriller/suspense, literary, YA, and even romance writers have all produced some excellent work in under 1,500 words.

To help you better understand the form, here are some excellent articles by flash authors on the WD site:

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a waiting poem.

GettyImages-119430542

Your Story #112

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Self-Published Ebook Awards

Announcing the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards! Discover the titles that placed in the categories of contemporary fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, and more.

Greg Russo: On Writing a Film Based on a Video Game

Greg Russo: On Writing a Screenplay Based on a Video Game

Professional screenwriter Greg Russo discusses the joy and challenge of converting a popular video games series into a screenplay and the balance of enticing a new audience while honoring a franchise's fans.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a city poem.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character fall under the influence of something or someone.

WD-PersonalEssay-2020-WinnerGraphic

Suspended: Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to J.E. Stamper, grand prize winner of the Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's his winning essay, "Suspended."

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Want to know how to keep your readers engaged and entertained with your mystery novel? Let these six tips from thriller author Kris Calvin guide you!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank story poem.