Tag Archives: writing

Why Flash?

flash writers

The number of famous authors who have written flash fiction is huge. Googling “flash fiction” brings up pages and pages of information and links to short-short fiction. Why do people enjoy writing flash?  Why is there a market for it?

The fairly recent popularity of flash fiction belies the fact that extremely short stories have been around for years. East Indian mythology in the Vyathaka Puranas and Greece’s Aesop’s fables are two examples.  Complete stories, with a moral – many of them barely filling a page. Speculative fiction has been a leader in the challenge to distill stories to their bare essence since the 1930’s.  In the early 1970’s,  George Hay (founder of the Science Fiction Foundation)  challenged Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke to write a “postcard story.” George’s idea was that stories on postcards with stamp-sized pictures of the author would be mailed around by excited fans, increasing the interest and audience for science fiction.

In the past few years, the availability and interest in very short fiction has risen in all genres. Writers and readers around the world are spending time exploring and pushing the boundaries of extremely short fiction.  From la minificción in Latin America to 一分钟小说 (smoke-long) fiction in China and flash in English speaking countries, various forms of short fiction are being studied by academics and futurists interested in the sociological implications. Why is flash fiction so popular today?  What does it say about our culture and the future of reading and writing?

It reflects our crazy lives – news comes in sound bites, social media has encouraged people to share bits and pieces (and subsequently learn to read bits and pieces of others’ lives). The digital world encourages short attention spans – and although curling up with a fat novel will always appeal to those wanting to lose themselves in an alternate reality, the pleasure of experiencing the epiphanic moments and poetic emotion good flash can supply is eagerly searched out by those with only a “minute” to spare.

Prose poetry, vignettes and mini essays all have flirted with the idea of a short, compelling story with a plot, emotional arc, and sometimes the hint of an interesting setting. Characteristics of good flash fiction include tight writing – every word counts – a story arc of some sort, whether plot or character, and a small nugget – either a small point, a small change, a small heroic result. Readers are satisfied when they feel the story is complete.  The ending doesn’t fizzle out or feel tacked on.

So why write or read flash?  Let me know what you think!

Further Reading:

names for flash


Submitomancy – Supporting Each Other

Please welcome Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, today’s Guest Blogger.  Sylvia is leading a project to create a submissions tracker and market research engine for writers called Submitomancy. The free level will allow all of us to track submissions and find markets in an easy, organized way.  I asked her to tell us about one of the many special aspects of the paid level.  The start-up is a crowd-funded effort – please join me in getting this project off the ground!

Supporting Each Other



Writing can be lonely work. When I started thinking about creating a one-stop-shop for manuscript and submitting process, I wondered if it could be used for motivation too.

There are a lot of great resources for writers online and I really love the message boards and forums that I am a member of (too many). There are a many options for discussion and I don’t think that needs adding to.

But there’s a basic solidarity in numbers that can be comforting. I feel really motivated by seeing Lee’s updates, especially over the past year when she’s been writing a flash story every week. I’d love to see constant updates from Lee for my own  inspiration but I also know that keeping up a blog is hard work.

The problem is, even though I’m not in the top tier, I know that I write a lot, I submit a lot and I get rejected a lot. If I post all my submissions, I worry that it sounds like I’m bragging. If I post all my rejections, I feel like I’m whining. I hate worrying about whether I’m dominating a forum by posting too much. I don’t want people to feel like they have to respond. I don’t want to bore my non-writerly friends with the minutia of my writing life.

It seems likely that I’m not the only person that feels this way. And that’s what got me thinking.

When I do exercise, I post my work-out on a fitness website. My friends on the website see what I’ve done and leave one-click messages of encouragement, which helps, in a small way, to make me want to go out and do it again. Whether the system calls them likes, +1, props or woots, the idea is the same. Someone has seen my effort and acknowledged it and that makes me smile.

So how could that work from a writing point of view?

What I envisage is that paying members of the service receive a social plug in option. This allows for quick updates to be broadcast on demand. It’s a little bit complicated but here’s how I think it would work…

First of all, I have to be able to add other users as my friends, which creates a private group exclusive to me. When I enter a new piece, I’ll be prompted to post it as a status update, either publicly or privately to my group of friends. They can quickly congratulate me but it also gives someone like Lee a chance to contact me if she wants to recommend a market that she thinks would be a good match. A status update showing my latest submission can build solidarity. And although rejections are never fun, sharing them with a select group of friends can help to ease the sting.

The user tracking will also give you updates as you progress. So you might get a pop-up window when you reach ten pieces out for consideration or when you’ve reached your 100th submission. The details of these milestones will be discussed with the Early Access users but the point is to help you see your progress and to give you the opportunity to share it.

The important point here is that no update would ever happen automatically. My feeling is that no one wants to read an automated feed. So for every action you take that warrants an update, you’ll be asked if you would like to share it and whether you’d like that update to be private or public.

My goal is to make it quick and easy to share and respond to progress updates so that we are all just a little bit less alone. That might not seem an obvious feature for a submission tracker, but it is one that is important to me.

Right now, Submitomancy is just a dream. I’ve put together an Indiegogo campaign to work out whether there is enough interest in the writing community to move forward. If you think the world would be a better place if Submitomancy existed, then please support the Indiegogo campaign and tell your friends.