In September, 2016, I took a flash fiction course with Writers.com under the tutelage of the esteemed poet and writer, Barbara Henning. The very first story presented was Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway. At 1,463 words, it is considered a masterwork of short fiction. I rewrote it to understand Hemingway’s use of subtext and of near total dialogue to tell a story. Several other stories followed by authors both known and unknown to me. By the end of the course, I was hooked on the form.
I’ve since gone on to write my own flash fiction and have even sent some pieces out for publication (my rejection pile is proof of my efforts). I’m also a volunteer proofreader at Flash Fiction Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to publishing one piece of short fiction every day. They also publish anthologies of the best fictions featured on the site (if you are curious about downloading them – click here. You may also see my reviews of all the available anthologies directly on Amazon or on my Goodreads). My objective is clear – I want to become as good as possible at writing in this form.
To that purpose, for the next several weeks I will be publishing reviews of flash fiction and short fiction anthologies that I’ve been reading. They may be out of order in some ways – I read what I get my hands on, so I was able to read The Best Small Fictions of 2016, before reading the The Best of Small Fictions of 2015 anthology, and I’m currenly reading Flash Fiction International, which was published between the aforementioned publications. On my TBR list is also Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Writing Prose Poetry, both of which were published before all of the publications I’ve read up to now. And I am saving 35 Tips For Writing A Brilliant Flash Story for Camp NaNoWriMo next month, in which I will attempt to draft a flash piece for nearly each day of my participation (my word count goal is 30K).
This, of course, does not count the websites I’m currently following which specialize in publishing flash fiction. It would be nearly impossible for me to review all of them but an upcoming post will feature a (nearly) exhaustive list of e-zines which publish the form. I will attempt to update this list regularly.
There is an important element of self-interest here, as it helps me become familiar with the different markets for this kind of writing. For example, not every website accepts every kind of short fiction. Some prefer mini-fiction in the classic sense of the term, which means they should feature some kind of narrative arc, together with a satisfying, even surprising ending. Others feature short fiction that is a blend of poetry and prose. Some favor even more experimental formats and approaches. I read one magazine that favors magical realism but prefers not to publish genre fiction, if possible. To that end, I’m learning the magazines, as I can credit at least one of my rejections to sending prose poetry to a site that prefers flash that has an identifiable narrative structure.
If you are interested in this form, or simply curious about flash, please follow this series, which I will publish every Wednesday. I would also be interested in any feedback you might have on the books I am reading or suggestions for websites where you enjoy reading flash fiction. Please leave these in the comments below.