Your Guide To Flash Fiction Writing

Greek philosopher Pythagoras imparted these wise words: Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few. Who would have thought his words would presage the popularity of snappy, Twitter-style brevity in today’s social media culture, alas, brimming with excessive outburst from netizens?

Flash fiction is the Twitter of literature, with word count ranging from 2,500 to 7,500 words or less.

Challenge your writer self to write down the barest of bare bones in preparation for the Xlibris’ 18th anniversary flash fiction writing contest. To prep you for this challenge, here are some tips on how to write your own micro novel.

Read famous short story writers

Learn from the experts. Read old and contemporary short story writers who have nailed this writing feat. The legendary Ernest Hemingway put his literary knack to the test and wrote what is believed to be the shortest story of all time, the outcome of a bet between him and writer friends. His six-word novel reads: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Reading this genre is a good start to wean yourself from the more descriptive style of novelists (if you are accustomed to reading them) and weed out words in your writing.

Know the elements of news writing

Journalists use the 4 Hs and 1 H elements to report a story, usually in so many words.

  • Who is it about?
  • What happened?
  • When did it take place?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?

Add a dash of human element

Remember that while you are writing as succinctly as possible, you should refrain from sounding like a news reporter. You are a creative/fiction writer, so turn the news elements into fictional but almost real human characters emotions, and situations.

Write invented pyramid, pyramid, or hour-glass-style

Inverted pyramid – The story begins with the climax or the most important part followed by the less significant parts.

Pyramid – Climax is revealed at the end of the story.

Hour glass – The beginning and the concluding parts are both significant in the development of the story. This is used when the plot thickens.

Take a risk

Because you know that any kind of writing aimed at improving your craft is a risk worth taking.

Free writing, editing, and book marketing tips are available on the Xlibris Blog,  Xlibris Indie Authors Roundup, and the Xlibris Writer’s Workshop.