I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist the Queen reference for a title here. I’m actually talking about Flash Fiction.
It began, like most of my less sane writing ideas, with me procrastinating on Facebook rather than actually writing. Specifically, I was looking at the Richmond WriMos Facebook group, and one of the local writers had posted this link to a Flash Fiction challenge.
Now, as I have mentioned before, I’m quite competitive when it comes to anything I can rank or score or break down to numbers. So, I see the word “challenge” and I immediately sign up for it.
I read more thoroughly, and now I realize that I just committed to writing sixty-four Flash Fiction stories over the curse of a year. No problem, I think. Just one relatively minor question occurs to me:
What in the world is “Flash Fiction?”
As a lazy internet researcher, I do what comes naturally and go search Wikipedia for “flash fiction.” Lo and behold there is an entry.
The most relevant part of that entry is the definition at the start, which reads:
“Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.”
I find it fascinating that there isn’t a definition that sets a hard limit of length on something that is almost entirely defined by its length. After all, at what point does Flash Fiction become a short story?
Since there isn’t a coherent definition, I’ve decided to go with my own length which will be “between 300-500 words.” I’m not great at brevity, as anyone who has read my prior blog posts will undoubtedly have noticed, so these short lengths will hopefully inspire me to trim the fat away from scenes to get closer to the 300 word mark than the 500 word one. I know I tend to write flabby though, so I fully expect all 64 stories to end up clocking in at over 450 words. Perhaps I’ll prove myself wrong, which means that i have grown as a writer over the course of the last couple of years. Here’s hoping.
Of course, when I signed up, I wasn’t aware that my job plans are likely to lead to a relocation and a move right in the middle of one of the standard months the challenge describes. In fact the very first month of the challenge, March is the likely victim of that (assuming every last paperwork snafu resolves itself).
And as I type this on the 27th of February, that first month is rapidly approaching, or as I like to think of it: March Attacks! I currently don’t even have any ideas or inspiration for the flash fiction beyond a single title “The Fall,” which is a bit of a problem since I’m supposed to be cranking out sixteen pieces starting Saturday.
So, faithful readers, I’m requesting writing prompts and ideas that I can cannibalize and use as part of this challenge.
I found two sites with ideas, but I’m certain you can all do better than either of these, am I right?
(Edit 3/3/14: Added the prompt resources suggested by Doug Daniel in the comments)
(Edit: 3/31/14: Added some prompt resources suggested by Brandy Spicer)
Stock photo courtesy of Prashant Jambunathan