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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please join the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How To Write Flash Fiction

Guest blogged by Diane Sagan


Flash fiction is a term for short stories that are no longer than 1,500 words. Some are even termed micro- or mini- stories because they are no more than 100 words. It’s important to remember that each story must have all the same requirements as a longer piece – characters, scene, conflict, resolution.

STEP I: Decide what you want your flash fiction story about. If you have a favorite genre like mystery, thriller, or romance, then write a story in that genre.

STEP 2: Write down some notes to get your story arc started. It can be an informal list of ideas to include in the story.

STEP 3: Write a short bio of your main character and antagonist or villain. This helps you develop your characters.

STEP 4: Write a first draft of your story. Allow yourself to write whatever comes out for this first draft. Then, put it aside for a little while so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

STEP 5: Read your story and see what works and what doesn’t. Clarify anything that seems confusing. Be sure to check for spelling or grammar mistakes. Share it with some fellow writers for feedback.

STEP6: Now, rewrite your story with the revisions and corrections you decided on from the original draft. Remember the key is to use a few words and still tell a good story.

The guest blogger is author of Rebeccah Redeemed. Here is her video:

She is also the author of Shelter from the Storm and Flash Tales: An Adventure with Words

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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  1. Great piece, Dianne. Concise with fabulous information - essential elements befitting any short story, to boot! :) Will definitely tweet to my writers.

    Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing!

  2. Never wrote one that short!

  3. What great information. I wasn't sure of the actual word count for flash fiction. Talk about tight writing.

    I copied this for my own reference!

    And, I'll retweet it also.

    Thanks Carolyn and Dianne,

    Karen Cioffi

  4. Flash Fiction isn't easy to write, even if it seems so at first glance.

    Thanks, Carolyn and Dianne. I tried to retweet but it didn't work.

    Vivian Zabel

  5. Great article. Thanks for the info.

  6. I enjoy writing flash fiction. It’s great practice for finding the perfect word to replace several. I thought your steps summarized the process perfectly.

  7. This is great information. I just recently started entering flash fiction contests. This will help.

  8. Anonymous10:20 PM

    This is a great exercise. I need to do this and post short stories to my blog. Thanks for the post.

    Stephen Tremp

  9. Excellent article, Dianne. Flash fiction is a HUGE wave right now, and your succint tutorial is just the right tool needed for being able to understand, prepare for, and ride that wave. Thanks - and thank you, HoJo - for posting this.

    The Old Silly

  10. Great information, Thanks for sharing with us
    Martha Swirzinski

  11. Aaa...flash fiction! I did it a few times, very interesting indeed. Great tips, it is difficult to achieve the short short result! Thanks Dianne!
    And Carolyn!


  12. Flash fiction, eh? I know Mike is pretty successful with it, but I have a hard time envisioning myself as one who writes it. My stories inevitably end up running longer. Still, this was a great post about how to write it and the elements involved.

  13. Flash fiction can be challenging, but great fun too!


  14. Here's an excercise for you--but especially Katie. Take one of those longer pieces and pare it down to the bone. Save the longer one, of course. Then let the two just sit for a few weeks. Go back and compare them. Where is the flash piece more effective? Less effective? You may not end up with a piece of flash fiction, but I bet you'll end up with an even better "long piece." (-:

  15. A wonderful online literary journal that publishes flash fiction is www.flashquake.com if anyone is interested in submitting!

    Thanks for the great post Carolyn and Dianne! :)

    All best wishes,


  16. Interesting information. Thank you for sharing :)

  17. What a great distillation - Diane, your 5 steps are inspiring. Thanks for sharing!


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