Why I Like Flash Fiction

by Shannon O’Connor
What is flash fiction? It’s just what it sounds like: fiction under one thousand words. But how does a writer create a story with a beginning and a middle and an end in such a short space? I write flash fiction; I also write novels and poetry, but I like flash because it’s quick, and it fits into my busy life right now.
I don’t write as much poetry as I used to, because I find it tiresome. I don’t have time to sit down and write a novel since I work and I do other things. But I can write a flash fiction piece in a half an hour before work, or on the weekends. I can create a story between five hundred and a thousand words that is a whole world.
I usually write the piece, then I let it marinate for a few days. I let it sit, and see what I think of it later. Then I go back and trim the meat, cut out excess fat, and try to find the perfect word for every sentence. I find this difficult to do with longer fiction. When a piece is brief, there’s more room for sculpting and shaping.
Any story that’s long can be shorter. How many words does a writer need to use? Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, Simplify.” He wasn’t talking about flash fiction, but he had the right idea.