What is flash fiction? You could describe it as ‘micro-fiction’ – a short story or, to be more exact, a short short story! There is no universally accepted definition of the length of flash fiction, so if you are entering a competition be sure to check the word limit.

We’ve collected our favourite tips on how to write flash fiction. Follow this advice and we’re confident your story will be a stonking success!

1. Beware of the twist!

It can be tempting to go for a ‘big reveal’ or ‘twist’ ending, but if you’re not careful this can feel too much like a shallow gimmick. If you put the denouement closer to the middle of the story, it gives you the chance to take your character on more of a journey – and take the reader along with them.

2. Adjectives, adverbs; anathema

Prune those descriptors! Imagine you’re a sculptor chipping away to reveal a statue.

3. Get straight to the action

There’s no room for scene-setting or character traits. They can be implied or introduced as you move through the story.

4. Choose your opening line carefully

It needs to hook the reader in and set the scene.

5. No more than two characters

You don’t have time to introduce all the boys who put the powder on the noses on the faces of the ladies of the harem of the court of King Caractacus.

6. Dialogue is your friend

It helps to describe characters and tell the story at the same time. On the other hand, beware of using too much slang, or so few tags that your readers lose track of who is saying what.

7. Think visually

Take a snapshot. Paint a picture with words. What image do you want to stay with the reader?

8. Make the title do its share of the work

It’s made of words. Use them.

9. It may be short, but it’s still a story

It needs a beginning, a middle and an end, and the main character needs to end up in a different emotional place than they started from.

10. Use allusions to help set the scene

Historical events or famous landmarks can act as shorthand. Just make sure they really are well known enough to speak to your readers.

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