Flash Fiction or Micro Fiction are terms used to describe a story that is very short, usually under 300 words, although some flash fiction can run up to 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, flash fiction in China is often called Smokelong due to the fact that the reader should be able to finish the story before he finishes smoking a cigarette.
As a writer, I’ve found that working with flash fiction has helped me with my longer work. Because of its brevity, I’m learning to write tight, telling a coherent and satisfying story without all those “cute” little descriptions or drawn-out sentences. Not easy. As you may have noticed, I tend to enjoy verbosity. Ahem! Time to get to the meat of the post.
Flash Fiction has become a great platform for online writing contests or simple challenges. Previously, I’d only written flash fiction for the Crime Bake Conference contest. However, I’ve discovered a wealth of online writing opportunities ranging from 50-300 words that are fun and give me a chance to connect with other writers like myself. Some of my favorites have photos connected to them. Others give you specific words or a sentence to include. One gives you the first and last word of your story.
Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t think so. I have too much to do with my own work.” Perhaps you might be tempted to explore this option if I mention the possibility of name recognition, an important marketing technique. Some blog contests publish not only the winners, but the stories of all who entered. Others, who issue only the challenge, link readers to your website. Very important. Once on your website, the reader will probably take a look around at you and your information. You’ve now successfully advertised yourself as a writer.
Additionally, if your entry should win the competition, you have one more accomplishment to add to your online profiles and more importantly, to that query letter.
Also, if you enter more than one challenge on the same website (some issue weekly challenges), your name becomes known to the cadre of other writers (possibly an errant publisher?) attempting to improve their writing. Many contests encourage the authors to comment on each of the other stories, which helps cement a new writing connection. I enjoyed whipping up one short using one of these links. Check out my website and the comments I received, Rita Mae’s Legacy.
Inevitably, writing resources will be exchanged and your writing community will expand. Unlike regular social media, this community will be geared to one thing, your writing.
Two members of my writing group have become immersed in blogs that encourage Flash Fiction posts: Emily Livingstone Unmapped Country Within Us and Lisa Pais The Enchanted Notebook. Both are incredible writers.
Emily, who has one story available on Amazon, another in Black Petals Magazine and is working on her second novel, has become enamored of Flash Fiction. She recently won a contest on the Micro Bookends blog entitled Shifts. The blog author, David Borrowdale asked her to judge the next competition and then posted an extensive interview and bio with her photo on the blog.
Lisa, who also enjoys Flash Fiction challenges has not only entered contests, but has begun hosting one of her own. Her Tuesday Tales challenge for this month included a cute photo of young boys devouring blueberry pie. I gave it a shot. Try it yourself: The Enchanted Notebook. Two more of my favorite flash fiction blogs: Friday Fictioneers, Monday Finish the Story.
If you’re looking for a paying contest with the top prize of inclusion in an anthology, try: The Molotov Cocktail. There is a $6.00 entry fee, but there are also second and third place dollar prizes.
Flash Fiction blogs can provide enjoyment, pay significant dividends, and ignite that competitive drive. If you haven’t seen these challenges, look them up. If you’ve heard of them but have dismissed the idea, now might be a good time to rethink that decision. At the very least you can have a little fun. At the most, you might get something extra to add to your writing profile.
Remember, keep writing.