July 20, 2008

WRITING ADVICE: Absolutely Basic Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is all the rage lately. Magazines, anthologies and ezines are devoted to it. I'm experimenting with it myself -- as you may have noticed with my short short stories in fictional worlds I've created HEIRS OF THE SHATTERED SPHERES (= HEIRS), THREAT OF MAGIC (= THREAT) and THIRTEEN SQUARE MILES (= THIRTEEN). Some people seem to think that flash fiction (aka: short-short stories, sudden, postcard, minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction) is a recent phenomenon. I'm here to say that it's a form as old as Christendom.

Flash fiction needs to meet several criteria -- you can link to a more complete discussion here:
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/flash.shtml . However, it might be most easily summarized by saying that it is a complete story with a beginning, middle and end in less than a 1000 words.

Vignettes and scene descriptions, snatches of dialogue and story snapshots are NOT flash fiction. Each piece MUST have characters, setting, problem, complication and denouement and the entire story must use a thousand words or less.

This is difficult to do. But wait! Christians have been memorizing and passing flash fiction back and forth for over two millenia. We call the flash fiction of Jesus "parables". I talked about parables before (http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/06/possibly-irritating-essay-is-there-any.html ) and I maintain that while The Parable of the Sower and the Seed is certainly TRUE, it's not necessarily FACT. C.S. Lewis discusses the difference between something being "true" and something being a "fact" -- I can't find the reference right now -- I will and insert it here. So in its essence, the Sower and the Seed is true even though it is fiction. Therefore, it meets the criteria of being a piece of flash fiction and falls under the heading of "Kinds Of Long-Lasting Writing I Should Try And Copy".

All of the parables of Jesus had a clear beginning, middle and end. He was writing flash fiction WAY before it became a fad. I can take comfort in this as I try and work the bugs out of my magical (THREAT), alien (HEIRS) and mundane (THIRTEEN) worlds by writing flash fiction stories. (I had the thought today that I might try creating some parables in the worlds. You'll have to read the results and tell me what you think.)

So first things first: quit reading my blog and GO WRITE YOUR OWN STORIES!