Recently, I received a lot of questions from authors interested in writing their flash fiction / short stories, most of those questions I’m going to answer in this article: “How to Write a Flash”
First of all, let’s define what I mean by Flash Fiction. Flash Fiction is self-contained story, meaning it must contain all the elements of a well-crafted story:
The story must have a beginning, middle and end.
The story must have a conflict.
The protagonist or MC must be well-developed and appealing.
The dialogue must be engaging.
It should be able to act as a stand-alone.
The challenge that comes with Flash Fiction is that you have around 1500 words to cover all those elements. In A Season for Romance - Spring Blossoms, we have stipulated that there must be some Spring elements featured in your story. For reference, you can check out my Flash Fiction– Red String and Seduction as examples of what we are looking for.
When I first tried to write Flash Fiction it was a great challenge. All my previous writing attempts ended up as trilogies, so I was a bit uncertain as to how to actually write a story using so few words. I researched the topic and found a set of Flash Fiction prompts - now, I had the setting, and some prompts could even be used as first lines.
NOTE: If you want to use Flash Fiction to market your fiction novel or series, you might consider using it as part of your world-building, so it can feature:
Side characters’ backstories;
Main characters untold backstories (fan fiction which you write yourself);
Lore of your fantasy world.
A strong idea or premise is the pivot point of a good story. I can craft most ideas into good stories. What it takes is clarifying the motivation of your characters, and showing the readers their goals and beliefs. If the protagonist's motives and beliefs are humanistic the story will end up being the one most readers would enjoy. I would dig deeper in this topic in one of my following articles.
So, with a good idea what else is there to know about writing Flash Fiction?
Technical implementation or where to start your Flash Fiction. I wrote about 6 or more pieces of Flash Fiction before I figured out a good template for a strong Flash Fiction:
One POV - because with every additional POV, you need space to introduce another character’s motivation. There are no words to spare in Flash Fic.
As few characters as possible - do not even try to introduce all the characters of your world. Keep it to 3-4 active characters, the optimal is two named characters as in Seduction and Red String.
One Scene - you don’t have time in Flash Fiction :) This was an important finding. As I analyzed my Flash Fiction - Red String, I figured out the time in which the story actually takes place. It’s very short - half an hour to midnight.
One Place - every time you shift the place, you need to use description to engage the reader, thereby taking away from the things that really matter – your protagonist’s character and motivation, and the interaction between the two MCs.
Conflict - there must be conflict. In Red String, there’s the inner conflict going on inside Bernard - Can he betray the trust of his prince?. In Seduction, the conflict is set as the banter between the angel and the dream demon.
Plot twist - While not essential, incorporating a plot twist is not the easiest thing to do in Flash Fic, but done correctly, will make your Flash stand out. After conflict is severed, it’s important not to prolong the ending. Plot twist can keep the reader engaged if there’s still something you wish to tell them, avoiding the disappointment of an anti-climax.
NOTE: The conflict must be resolved at the end of the Flash, but this doesn’t mean it has to be a clean, cut-and-dried,ending. It only means that the main conflict must be resolved, but there might be some open topics left for another story.
Now you know how to write Flash Fiction. Go and write one romance story featuring Spring elements, so it can be included in A Season for Romance - Spring Blossoms, the first flash romance anthology that helps you craft a flash you can be proud of and use as an introduction to your world.
We still have topics to explore. I have mentioned about using Flash to market your series and that Flash can grow to series, but can every Flash grow into its own series?
Stay tuned to find out!