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Flash fiction

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From flash fiction at Wikipedia

Flash fiction is fiction characterized by its extreme brevity. While there is no universally accepted exact word limit, generally a short story is considered to constitute flash fiction if it is less than 1,000–2,000 words long, and most flash-fiction pieces are between 250 and 1,000 words long. (By contrast, "traditional" short stories range from 2,000 words to upwards of 20,000, and are mainly between 3,000 and 10,000 words long; they are distinguished from longer forms, such as the novel and novella, primarily by the intent that they be read in a single sitting.)

Other names for flash fiction include sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, postcard fiction, and short short story, though distinctions are sometimes drawn between some of these terms; for example, sometimes 1,000 words is considered the cut-off between "flash fiction" and the slightly longer "sudden fiction". The term "flash fiction" likely originated in James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka's 1992 anthology of that name[1]. As the authors of that anthology said in their introduction, their own definition of a "flash fiction" was a story that would fit on two facing pages of a typical digest-sized literary magazine, or about 750 words.

History

Flash fiction has roots going back to Aesop's Fables, and practitioners have included Bolesław Prus, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franz Kafka, H.P.Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury. New life has been brought to flash fiction by the Internet, with its demand for short, concise works. A ready market for flash-fiction works is ezines; however, flash fiction is also published by many print magazines. Markets specializing in flash fiction include SmokeLong Quarterly, Every Day Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online.

One type of flash fiction is the short story with an exact word count. Examples include 55 Fiction, the Drabble and the 69er. Nanofictions are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long. A Drabble is a story of exactly 100 words, excluding titles, and a 69er is a story of exactly 69 words, again excluding the title. The 69er was a regular feature of the Canadian literary magazine NFG, which featured a section of such stories in each issue. Short story writer Bruce Holland Rogers has written "369" stories which consist of an overall title, then three thematically related 69ers, each with its own title.[2]

Flash fiction and vignettes

Flash fiction differs from a vignette in that the flash-fiction work contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike the case with a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. This principle, taken to the extreme, is illustrated by Ernest Hemingway's six-word flash, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."[3]

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  1. Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories (ISBN 0393308839)
  2. Word Games, The Writer, January 2006
  3. Very Short Stories, Wired Magazine, November 2006