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Tuesday, 11.2.04: Flash Fiction

Yesterday's entry on micro minimovies got me thinking about the kind of writing that needs to go with it.

Flash fiction is a very short form of story-telling -- maybe only 75 words, maybe up to a couple hundred, though I've see definitions that go up to 1000. While the definitions take themselves seriously, I'm having a hard time distinguishing between flash fiction and a joke. Guy walks into a bar... A priest, a minister, and a rabbi...

Hasn't Reader's Digest been publishing "flash fiction" in the form of reader-contributed anecdotes for decades? Isn't that sort of what all those Chicken Soup books are about? Do you believe all those sappy little first-person tales are true? Maybe I'll buy that they are based on facts and polished up, just like every episode of Law and Order is "ripped from the headlines."

From the tone of the articles on flash fiction, I think this form has more literary ambitions than a shaggy dog story. Are they more like fables or fairy tales? Once upon a time...

more like fables or fairy tales?

I have a book on "sudden fiction" and I have to confess that I've never been able to get into it. The shorties seem more like little meditations on an emotional state -- not stories, where you start out at one place and end up at another. They present beautiful detailed images, but I keep thinking they must only be scenes in a larger story.

Okay, I have to admit that I've never been much of a fan of short stories. I read The New Yorker with languid delight, but skip right past the weekly short story. I've been more of a fan of the novel's character development and complexity -- your patience in getting into it is rewarded with days of absorption.

And so here I am developing tiny short movies that need tiny evolved stories.

I just realized I've been here before. I used to write novels but when my agent finally gave up after a couple years of trying to get them published, I turned to the shorter forms of the internet. I spin off these little non-fiction essays without much thought, but there is an abandoned section of Mad in Pursuit where I was going to post short-shorts. I looked at them now. They are really just scenes I liked from various false starts. They definitely describe emotional states, but don't particularly progress from a starting state to an ending state. The visuals aren't terrible, but I can't see that they'd be much interest as short films.

Since there was a time when I was madly in love with each of those characters, maybe I'll try revising those scenes into flash fiction one of these days -- or a one-act movie. For practice.

P.S. 11.3.04 Jim pointed out that I don't read cartoons either and these are often self-contained stories in 4 panels.


NOTES -Flash Fiction

Writing Flash Fiction by G.W.Thomas. 7 points for success.

Writing Flash Fiction Using Bubble Diagrams.

Flash What? A Quick Look at Flash Fiction by Jason Gurley.

Who Wears Short Shorts? Micro Stories and MFA Disgust. A critique.



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