Today is National Flash Fiction Day – maybe the first of such occasions as the title ‘flash fiction’ is relatively new. Every day must now be a something day, or several somethings, and I can imagine some incongruous pairings!
We sometimes like our stories to be ultra-mini – the theory being that in today’s fast-moving world we haven’t got time for anything that takes longer than 5 minutes to read.
I think the very short story does have a past – think of Raymond Carver’s stories. I recently read one, ‘The Father’, which is only a little over a page. It’s in his collection, ‘Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?’ first published in the USA in 1976. I recommend Carver’s stories for their disturbing insights, brevity and crisp scene setting.
Some of his stories were made into the film, ‘Short Cuts’.
In The Guardian yesterday, David Gaffney gives some advice for writing flash fiction. He suggests that the story should start in the middle. Also, he thinks that the ending should appear before the actual end.
I am much more at ease with writing longer stories. But I do write poetry and this has perhaps some similarities with flash fiction. There are differences, though. As some of my writing group and I discussed over coffee in Wimborne today: a poem doesn’t have to tell a story but flash fiction does. Doesn’t it?