Flash Fiction and Short-Shorts

Short fiction, so popular in the days of radio mysteries, Saturday morning matinees and the early days of the Saturday Evening Post has returned. Only now the word short has new meaning as the flash fiction genre has been added to the mix.

Flash fiction is a complete story with a beginning, middle and an end, written within a very short number of words. The most common are the 55 fiction which can be up to but not exceed 55 words and the flash fiction which does not exceed 100 words.

Short-shorts run 1000-2000 words. Short stories can range from 3000 to as high as 10,000 words. I came to think about this market accidentally. I heard a program presented on flash fiction and as an exercise wrote a 100 word piece that was immediately published by the Roswell Literary Review.

Another program focused on very short fiction. That presenter said we had all seen one shoe lying by the side of the road.

We were to tell the story of that shoe in 1000 words or less. We did and mine again found rapid publication.

I recognized a wet towel when it slapped me in the face. I began to research the market and found things of interest to other writers.

The first revelation was seeing that writing the shorter works is excellent for the development of any writer’s technique. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.”

It’s easy to convey an idea with unlimited words to work with, but lengthy exposition can be death on a longer work, and there simply isn’t room for it in the short pieces. One of the best tools for learning to control exposition is writing the short works, the shorter the better. So it’s good for streamlining writing, does a market really exist for it?

Writer’s Digest publishes a list of 50 fiction markets annually. Christian writers can find a list of such markets in Sally Stuarts Christian Market guide. Good SF markets are listed at Ralan’s Webstravaganza or quite a nice list of markets at Writer’s Write. These are just samples of what an online search can produce on fiction markets.

Speaking of online, that’s another source driving this area. There are now quite a number of E-zines that use short fiction, and many of them have substantial readership bases.

As in the print medium there are both paying and nonpaying markets and again, an online search for the keywords fiction, short stories or magazines can turn up more possibilities than one could possibly pursue.