Wherever I go I hear the words “flash fiction” or “short-short fiction.” I’m asked what these things mean in my book discussion group and they are discussed in my writing groups. I decided to do a bit of research and bring it all together here.
The main problem with all of these types of writing is the names change as do the requirements. I found different definitions on different sites. Here’s the breakdown as close as I can figure it out.
First of all, short fiction should have a beginning, middle and end. In other words, it should tell a story. There should be as setting and one or more characters along with some conflict and a resolution. The title may or may not be part of the word count.
Fifty-five Fiction: exactly 55 words
Drabble or Micro Fiction: exactly 100 words
Flash Fiction or short-short story: 100 to 1,000 words
Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000/50,000 words can be made into a chain-novel
Novel: 50,000 to 110,000 words
Short stories have been written by most authors of the past. Hemingway was a master of short stories. As periodicals disappeared short stories became harder to publish. Anthologies were about the only outlet for short fiction. As self-publishing becomes a major force in the field many authors or groups of authors have published their own anthologies. Literary magazines published by universities and other organizations are available in print and in e-form.
Readers often prefer something short as many can’t seem to find the time to dig into a novel. Young adults seem to be especially drawn to reading and writing short fiction.
It would seem that writing short would be easier but it is actually harder to write short. It takes practice and determination to make every single word count. It is great practice. Give it a try with this prompt: an abandoned car.
You can also check out these contests: (I don’t know anything about these so be sure to do your research on their validity and on any contests you hear about.)
Happy writing and good luck.
Desert Foothills Library Writers Connection
January 9 ● 1-3pm (special date: 2nd Friday in January)
AUTHOR SURVIVAL: CAREER CHOICES AND SELF-PROMOTION
Large publisher? Small traditional press? eBook publisher? Self-publishing? Should you find an agent? Follow the trends? In the ever-changing landscape of publishing, making the right choice at the right time for your particular kind of writing is paramount… if you want to survive as an author. As for self-promotion, there are so many opportunities on the Internet these days, it’s easy to get let it consume your entire writing time. Which venues are worth pursuing? Should you pay for advertising? What really works? It changes monthly. Get the latest tips from Vijaya Schartz, an experienced, award-winning author who’s been through it all. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
February 6 ● 1-3pm
WRITE THE MEMOIR YOU’RE AFRAID TO WRITE
In an encouraging, insightful presentation, Scottsdale Society of Women Writers president/founder Patricia L. Brooks helps you capture your untold story that must be told. Her workshop shares why & how to face your fears, get past the facts & conquer the story’s spiritual & emotional truth so you can write this memoir to your satisfaction. With tips and techniques from her daring second memoir, Patricia will inspire you to take the necessary steps to keep a daily journal, write weekly goals & make no excuses about your writing. She’ll stimulate your creative talents by showing you how to break through your silence to find your voice & give yourself permission to write your truth. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
March 6 ● 1-3pm
CREATING CHARACTERS FROM THE INSIDE OUT
How does your main character like their eggs? You don’t know? Character is PLOT! Once you know your characters inside and out, they will tell you everything you need to know about where your story is headed. But you can’t tell your characters who THEY are; you need to listen to what THEY are telling YOU. How you do that? Find out from Chris Benguhe, former celebrity reporter, now inspirational author and speaker, creative writing instructor, ghostwriter and Catholic Sun columnist. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
April 10 ● 1-3pm
(special date: 2nd Friday in April)
PROTECT YOUR WRITINGS
Join Maria Crimi Speth, Intellectual Property Attorney & author of “Protect Your Writings” for a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand presentation of laws that affect writers and their creative work. You will learn everything you need to know about the laws relating to writing books, articles & blogs & how to AVOID making common, costly legal mistakes. Advance registration required: 480-488-2286.
Over the summer the Phoenix Writers Club had a 55 word contest for members. We were to write a story (with a beginning, middle and end) in 55 words. Some of the members were judges and the winner won $55.00 with second at $44.00 and third at $33.00. The rest of us received certificates and all were published in the newsletter.
Here’s my submission:
The vacant windows of the abandoned farmhouse beckoned to me. I imagined the photos I’d create and raising the camera I stepped into the overgrown yard. Lost in the viewfinder I moved forward until my foot hit a wooden step. Anxious to go inside I stepped up on the porch.
It is fun to do challenges and try new things. We are all aware that publishing is changing. Genres are blending and eBooks are taking over. Flash fiction meets the needs of people who want something short they can read on the run.
Keep challenging yourself as a writer.
Take your first steps with something new, just like my mom in this photo.