Over the years, I’ve interviewed writing contest winners, including flash fiction writers. When asked what they enjoy about writing flash fiction, their love of the genre is clear—even if they also do other kinds of writing.
What’s so great about writing flash? And how could it benefit your writing life? Here’s what some of the WOW contest winners had had to say:
- “Writing flash fiction is fun and energetic. Having a word count limit forces me to be parsimonious with my language, stripping it down to the essentials, and I enjoy the challenge of selecting the punchiest verbs and most evocative adjectives. Plus, the project is finite—it may take some time to edit, but once it's complete, I've crafted a whole world in 750 words or less. So satisfying!” -Sally Basmajian, runner up
- “To convey what you want to say in so few words really concentrates everything--language, rhythm, structure--and it also mysteriously concentrates the pleasure of the writing. This was a big surprise to me.” – Rochelle Williams, first place winner
- “When flash works, there's no more satisfying feeling to me. It's a complete thing with few, if any, real flaws to it. A novel is a different animal. I will always find things in it that are too long or overwrought or even embarrassing. I'm talking about published work now. But with flash, I rarely find anything in it that I regret. It's so short, so succinct, that either the whole thing works or the whole thing doesn't.” – Marti Lembach, runner up.
- “I love the condensed form. My favorite length, both to read and write, is around 500 words -- long enough to have strong character voice and a dynamic setting, but not long enough for meandering. Every word has to count. It’s like assembling a puzzle.” - Myna Chang, first place winner
- “Besides the instant gratification of writing a shorter piece, flash is an exercise in brevity, clarity and pacing, forcing you to tell a compelling story in abbreviated form. Flash also hones your editing skills as you carve away the non-essential. I’ve whittled down longer stories and even outtakes from my novels to flash fiction.” – Patricia Donovan, first place winner
- “I’m fairly new to flash. I started writing it very intentionally, to help me learn how to tighten up my long-form writing and practice effective storytelling. It’s been a tremendous help. With such a tight word limit, I have no choice but to say things with economy and get to the point.” -Julie Watson, runner up
- “Although I enjoy writing all kinds of things, I’ll admit that I’m currently in an "exclusive relationship" with flash fiction. I love the brevity involved, the way a writer can say so much in such a small, compressed space. I love that moment at the end of a really good piece, when your mind is whirring, scrambling to put the pieces together, and suddenly, it’s there, that second when you hold your breath and the truth of it appears, filling the space like magic. It’s just incredibly beautiful” – Kelli Short Borges, runner up
- “I expected the word limit to be a burden, but after doing that for a year I’ve become rather fond of it. I really enjoy the challenge of it. I think it’s helped my other writing a lot too because it’s taught me how to edit much faster, and say what I want to say in a more concise manner—as well as simply help me figure out what I truly want to say in the first place.” -Kayie Hatch, first place winner
Have you written any flash fiction? Are you ready to write some flash now? Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for whatever type of writing you do!
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