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Flash fiction has a unique ability to convey big ideas and deep emotional truths in an extremely short amount of time. That’s why writers use flash fiction as a creative writing exercise or as a potent storytelling vessel in its own right.



What Is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is a type of short fiction, often defined as a very short story. While there is no set word count that separates flash fiction from more traditional short stories, flash fiction stories can be as short as a few words (while short stories typically run for several pages). Flash fiction is also known as sudden fiction, short-short stories, micro-fiction, or microstories.

Flash fiction writing is extremely brief, and as a result, there isn’t usually much backstory or character development. However, the best flash fiction writers are able to pack entire story ideas into a few short paragraphs. A flash fiction story still has a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a main character or protagonist. This sets it apart from a prose poem or vignette, which can explore an emotion, memory, or thought without a plot or story structure. Great flash fiction often incorporates surprise, usually in the form of a twist ending or an unexpected last line. This is not a gimmick: The aim is to prompt the reader to think deeply about the true meaning of the story.

Why Write Flash Fiction?

Some people write flash fiction as a creative writing exercise, as a way of shaking off writer’s block, or as a means of strengthening their writing abilities. Others use flash fiction as fiction writing prompts or story starters for longform pieces. Some writers participate in flash fiction challenges, perhaps attempting to compose a new flash fiction story every day for a month.

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8 Flash Fiction Writing Prompts

Inspiration for flash fiction can come in the form of fully-fleshed out ideas or single words. What’s important is to craft a story with a narrative hook, complete arc, and memorable ending. Here are some prompts to get you started writing flash fiction:

  1. A straight-A high school student falls in love with the troll who lives in her locker.
  2. A boy and his best friend discover an ancient map in their parents’ wine cellar.
  3. A man opens a card from his husband that says: “Happy Valentine’s Day! I’d like a divorce.”
  4. A roller coaster transports a dying man into the past.
  5. A woman has a flashback to a moment in her childhood that she had long forgotten. Are her memories really her own?
  6. In a dystopian world where it’s illegal to laugh, a young girl hears a joke for the first time in her life.
  7. A woman obsessed with thriller novels wonders if the new man in her life is secretly a top-level government spy.
  8. Compose a story using these three random words: chandelier, toothache, bolo tie.