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Outside the Square - Writing Publishable Short
Boost Your Writing Income and get Paid to Write
Beginning to End - In a Flash!
by Pamela Heffernan
So what is flash fiction anyway?
Also known by other names like smokelong, postcard and
micro-fiction, whatever you choose to call it, flash
fiction is simply a short story of 300 - 1000 words (give
or take a bit for some publications).
While writing flash fiction can be the most fun you may
have writing a story, it takes a lot of work to get it
right. Why? You still need all of the essential story
components. You must have a beginning, middle and an end,
just like any piece of fiction. You must have a central
conflict. And you still need realistic, three-dimensional
Now try squeezing all that, say, in 300 words. It still
doesn't seem so bad, right? I mean it's gotta' be easier
than writing a 5000 word college essay on your opinion of
the causes and effects of pollution in Zimbabwe. (Okay,
I promise it's way easier than that).
So, we're writing a story with a beginning, middle and an
end in 300 words, but there's a couple of things we must
also remember to factor in: setting, character, conflict
Writing flash fiction is not the place to show off your
vast vocabulary of twenty-five cent words or how much
detail you can jam into one description. But it is the
place to really work the writer inside you.
Stretch your imagination and creativity to the limit.
Now's the best time to practice the old adage we all love
so much, "Show, don't tell".
Using strong action verbs, avoiding linking verbs (ie:
became) and state-of-being verbs (ie: am, is, are, was,
etc.) will help to both, keep your word count down and
tighten up your story at the same time.
Think of flash fiction as a brief, inspired moment. It's
a piece of what could become a bigger story. Your job as
the writer is to make sure the reader doesn't actually
feel that they're only getting "part" of the
Let your creative spirit soar and get lost in the fun and
power of writing flash fiction!
Exercise: She had just
smashed every single piggy bank in the house, but not for
the money inside...
Write a 500 word story about what happened.
Market: Flashquake is a
*paying* independent, quarterly, web-based publication
that focuses on works of flash fiction, flash nonfiction
(memoirs, essays, creative nonfiction, humor) and short
Copyright Pamela Heffernan. All Rights Reserved
Pamela Heffernan is a freelance writer from
Canada. With a passion for all styles, she writes poetry,
fiction, non-fiction and, of course, flash. Pamela is
currently improving her skills by taking a writing
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org