What is flash fiction?

'Each drop encases its own separate note, the way each drop engulfs its own blue pearl of light.' 

This description of rain, from Stuart Dybek's story "Nighthawks," is as close to a definition of flash fiction as I can offer. A successful flash enchants us, each small story successfully rendered engulfing us for a brief moment - in a 'flash,' in its own brand of light, or truth. And the effects linger on...(Rose Metal Press)
  • FF is a place for reckless daring - you write strange sentences in a new voice. The ambition of a short short piece of fiction is not to get the readers to 'lose themselves' - how far can you get lost in a few hundred words? The effect of FF is just that, fast, (even if writing it isn't) and yet complete. The shape of the piece leaps out at the reader and is taken in as a whole, as if it were a picture, sketchy.
  • FF is about ambiguity, a singular moment, a slice of life, a sketch.
  • Consider how much you can leave out and still create a moving, complete narrative. Can you write a story that consists of only dialogue? How is it still a story? What is a story?

Go here for a list of flash fiction sites where you can learn more.


"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."

So goes one of the popular definitions for flash fiction. Today, flash fiction challenges impose caps as low as six words or 140 characters, while others consider stories as long as a 1500 words to be flash fiction. Some give credit for the flash fiction genre to Ernest Hemingway attributing the following to him: "For Sale, Baby shoes, Never worn." The story regarding Hemingway's contribution is also considered by some as an Urban Legend. They say he wrote it on a dare from someone to write a complete story in one sentence. Whether true or not, it's a wonderful story.

The point is that flash fiction comes in many formats. But one thing's for sure, your story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, regardless of the length. It must tell a complete story.

For the WEP, we've gone with the limit of 1000 words or less, and it's why the challenges will run every other month. This will give you, the writer, time to write, edit, and then publish and link your short story for the edification of your peers, and with prizes awarded.

So how do you get started? Writing prompts. Whether it's a few words, a full sentence, a title, or a picture – the writing prompt is essential to starting the creative juices flowing. Prompts include a sentence, a title, a photograph, or even a list of words that must be used in the piece.

Here at the WEP we'll give a title or phrase as a suggestion such as Spectacular Settings for August, Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears for October, and Holiday Celebrations that are out of this world in December. To learn more about these prompts just click the link titled Upcoming-Challenges for 2015.

While it's considered a challenge to write with such brevity, I consider it training. As a wordy writer, I can write a sentence as long as 40 + words. I enjoy flash fiction because it's an opportunity to write, edit, and publish a masterpiece quickly. You achieve a goal – a completed story, and then you have an opportunity for immediate feedback – especially when you post on your blog and link to others participating in the same challenge. You also learn the craft from reading what others have done.

Brevity in writing is a good thing especially if you want your story ready for publication in a magazine or want to enter a competition. Word limits are imposed because of space limitations. I've used several of my flash fiction stories as a jumping off place for entries to the WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Challenges, and recently won Honorable Mention (placed in the top twenty out of a possible 300 entries). WOW Judges are a tough lot, besides a 750-word limit and a complete story, editing is crucial – they accept only perfection when it comes to grammar. Their challenges run quarterly, but cash prizes are awarded.

The WEP is your opportunity to get your work in front of an audience, receive constructive feedback, and then enter it into a cash challenge or send it for submission to a magazine. The Copyright for any challenge posted for the WEP stay with the author.

For those familiar with Flash Fiction Challenges and want more places to share your craft or for those interested in learning more about the genre, here are a few sites for other Flash Fiction competitions – as you'll see the requirements for length varies considerably.

What do you think? Are writing prompts helpful? Have you entered any of your work from the WEP into a contest, or to a magazine? Do you think Ernest Hemingway can be credited with the father of Flash Fiction and the Six Word Story?

Don't forget to share the Challenge
Tweet one of these:

Did you know Ernest Hemingway is credited for the Flash Fiction craze? @DeniseCCovey  @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/07/wep-what-and-why-flash-fiction.html #WEPFF

Would you like your work read in a magazine? Test it out with the WEP @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/07/wep-what-and-why-flash-fiction.html #WEPFF

Work out the writing kinks through Flash Fiction Challenges and the WEP @DeniseCCovery @YolandaRenee http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/07/wep-what-and-why-flash-fiction.html #WEPFF


  1. Thanks for dissecting the quote, it seems to make much more sense.

  2. It seems I'm on the right track, I hope I can do well. The result was something I did and was doing to implement it.


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