F is for Flash fiction. Flashfic is harder to write than you’d think. The idea behind it is, of course, to be quite short so you can read it in a flash. I find it a very good training tool in many ways. I’m wordy by nature. I write long, too long, if I’m not careful. Most flash fiction is under 1,500 words and some is significantly shorter than that. It challenges you to be very aware of your word choice and story structure.
I need this. Almost every one of my short stories ends up having too much story in them and they don’t work nearly as well as they should. By accepting flash fic challenges, it helps you hone your craft (and maybe drive you a little insane). I first started these challenges in fandom drabble communities (a drabble being only 100 words). I remember one friend asking me why I bothered. She didn’t like drabbles, she didn’t see the point in fiction so small. I explained the discipline behind it as the reason I did it. Truthfully though, I prefer longer fiction. I’m a novel reader. I struggle with reading anthologies because I’m not overly fond of shorter fiction.
That said, I appreciate the lessons it has to teach me as an author. There are tons of flash fic challenges out there. The Facebook community, Queer Sci-Fi does one yearly for the last four years. I took the challenge in year two and three (placing into the final anthology). I skipped the first year as I had just joined the community and was a bit shy. I did just send mine in for this year. It is a contest. Will I win? Who’s to say? That’d be sweet but I enjoy being part of the whole process so it’s okay if I don’t. Their contest is rather hard actually with 300 words being the top word count.
Lex Chase has a challenge she runs intermittently and I just came up with a steampunk for that. I’m proud of that little story. And for the followers of Chuck Wendig, they’re well aware he often runs flash fic challenges on his blog. I don’t’ find the time to write for his challenges nearly as much as I’d like (it’s often weekly. There are other weekly flash fic challenges out there but I don’t really have the time/discipline to do those). If you don’t follow Wendig’s blog , I do recommend it. Word of warning fuck is one of his favorite words (for those of you who are more gently turned than I.) He does very good inspirational posts in addition to the flash fic.
So to the authors out there who haven’t given flash fic a try, do. It’s a very different challenge in comparison to other forms of writing.