Friday, March 25, 2011

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction is something I don't do particularly well, so I make myself do it every once in a while to get better at it. As you could probably tell from my blog posts, I am a bit verbose.

Flash Fiction is a short story, a very short story, that fits into less than a thousand words. If you read a garden variety paperback, you could guess that each page is 250 words, so Flash Fiction is usually about four of those pages long. The hard part is making a complete, engaging story fit into that short of a space. Some Flash Fiction is even as short as 50 or 100 words - but I find that to be completely impossible.

Hemingway wrote one of the shortest (and best) stories ever. 6 words.

"For sale. Baby shoes, never worn."

It is a complete story. We can all imagine what it means.

All day, every day, I see or hear or think of something that would make a good story. Since I started writing, it has become the way I think. Maybe I always thought this way and just never identified it as storytelling. As a kid, I spent an inordinate amount of time in my room, by myself, grounded for various and sundry reasons by either of the wicked step monsters, and I had to entertain myself somehow. So, I made stuff up.

I think everyone can do it, it just gets nurtured in some and ignored in others. The talent is in compressing it, molding it, fine tuning it enough so that other people want to hear the story.

Something as simple as "a white picket fence" can set me off into composing a story about the fence. I wish I had more time to think, but for some strange reason, I find that being busy makes me more creative - in a more condensed fashion - than in the past two years. Go figure. Less time - better writing.


I don't recommend it. I think real writers need to do just that - write. But, as I say in my bio, I'm a writer in my unreal life.

In a few days or perhaps a week, I'll post the "white picket fence" story. It should be about 500 to 800 words or so. I just started it last night and I know everything except the ending. I start stories very well and agonize over the ending. I always read the last page of a book before I start reading it and I never knew why. Still don't, but perhaps it has something to do with how I compose a story. One beginning, many possible endings. Maybe I should collaborate with someone who always knows how to end a story, but struggles with the beginning.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Sorry, I digress.

I love things that have symbolism so ingrained, and yet subtly different for everyone. The "white picket fence" topic is one of those, and it will be interesting to hear how others interpret it.


Jo Taylor


  1. Hi Jo, I thought I'd try the "impossible" just for fun - a 50 word flash fiction story. Here Goes!

    Freeing Grace.

    The blindfold fell away. Grace gasped! Warm blood from the dying assailant beside her pooled around her bound hands and feet. The agent's blue eyes stared down on her. Four other bodies littered the floor. Her briefcase lay open. The paper inside, titled C.U.R.E. - Cancer's Unambiguous Reversal Extrapolated, remained intact.

    The End.

    I'd hope'd to tie this post in with your last post on grace with this story, hence the title - Freeing Grace. But the story, once begun, took over as they tend to do, and in the end only her name points that way. Oh well, we try. Anyway, thanks for the challenge. I enjoy your blog as I always enjoyed your work over at FanStory. Good luck with finding the picket fence ending you're looking for. I look forward to reading it. Be well. Andy (formerly Curious Novice on FanStory).

  2. Hi Andy!

    How cool is that? A story - better yet, an impossible story! Thank you for reading and for the micro fiction. I think my answer will be longer than your whole composed piece.

    Hadn't been on FS much this year and I see you haven't either. So glad to know you are still writing. Post on my blog anytime, I'm happy to have the company :)