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Flash Fiction

November 29, 2009

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

That’s the short-short-short Hemingway was alleged to have penned.  I prefer “Hills Like White Elephants” myself, but there’s a virtue in flash fiction for even the most loquacious of novelists, perhaps especially so.   I think of flash fiction as something between a five-finger exercise and a prelude: it has value of its own, and value in what it forces one to do.

Which is get to the point.

*brief intermission while I restore the wireless connection on my son’s computer*

Much of what is good about good flash is, as with the six-word bit of Hemingway apocrypha, only implied.  If you only have a few hundred words, you can’t muse for pages on the inequities of the human condition or think back to the protagonist’s upbringing with missionaries in Namibia or go on about the fourteen varieties of flowers covering the hills surrounding the action.  Well, I can’t, anyway.  But you can give a sense of what has come before, and what may follow, and who these people are and why you should care about them, if only a little bit and until you turn the page.

I think I need to do one or two in the brief lull between revisions and sketching.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2009 10:04 am

    Yes, a flash fiction piece must give the impression that things happened before the beginning of the story and things will happen after the end of the story. The story captures a significant moment in between. At least that’s how I try to approach my own flash fiction.

  2. December 6, 2009 5:22 pm

    When writing longer pieces, I sometimes sketch out flash pieces that would fit neatly in the seams between scenes. They never make it past that stage, but even there I think they’re useful.

    The short-shorts I write from whole cloth feel more satisfying in their own right.

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