Laura Howard: Yearning For Flash Fiction with Anna Meade


Yearning For Flash Fiction with Anna Meade

Ladies and gents, gather round! I present for your reading pleasure the world-famous Queene of the Flash-- Anna Meade!!

The lovely Laura asked me to write a guest post about flash fiction. I’ve never been able to resist flattery and she said many sweet things about my flash fiction. So here I am!


Flash fiction is an addiction waiting to happen for a writer. The only trouble is when the need to write short, pithy pieces overtakes any longer works. Flash fiction certainly can be a convenient way to procrastinate from your work-in-progress, especially if your writing has stalled.

On the flip side, one can argue that sometimes it’s important to take a break from one’s WIP, to give it some breathing room and instead write something fun or at least brief. Flash fiction represents low commitment. No one can quite agree on how long it ought to be. I’ve seen it as short as 100 words and as long as 450. I don’t think it matters – the heart of the idea is that you are telling a complete story in the most economical way possible.

I've run several flash fiction contests over at my blog at Yearning for Wonderland: the Fairy Ring Contest, the Once Upon a Time Contest and the Faerypin Contest, which drew upon my Faerytaleish Pinterest board for inspiration. All of them ranged from 50-90 entries and were so gratifying, to be part of inspiring so many different writers in so many styles.

I’ve also used flash fiction as a way to write a serial novel. My Slowtime stories have come about because of intriguing prompts from Cara Michaels and Siobhan Muir. Those flash stories are not complete stories, but they each represent a single beat in the story and require great economy to write.

If you are interested in pursuing flash fiction, your first step is to find the formats that suit you best. Do you prefer visual prompts, like photos? Do you like to arrange your prose around a required word or subject? Do you want a song inspiration? Any of these are available online. In fact, if you look you can find a way to write a piece of flash every day of the week. That means you’re writing every day and that can never be a bad thing.

There is a popular concept of the author as sitting alone in a room, pecking away at a typewriter. Certainly, solitude can be a necessary requirement for writing. But Jane Austen wrote many of her novels in full view of her family, in between interruptions by her beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. So I recommend joining Twitter and following all the writers you can. The writers I have met on Twitter have become dear friends. Especially if you don’t know any writers where you live, it is a deep consolation to get on Twitter and rant about a particularly tricky section or your writer’s block or how you think your character has a flash fiction addiction. See how I brought that back around?

By writing flash fiction regularly, you become part of a larger community. All of the competition is in fun. It’s great to win badges or ARCs, but truly the prize is the gift of incisive writing. Flash fiction writers have to cut all the lame words, the superfluous adjectives, the oh-so-tempting adverbs to meet that word count. Nothing can remain but the story, in its most pure form.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go write some flash…


  1. Wonderful post, ladies. :) I've just started to dip my toe into flash fiction, but it is so addicting! I have discovered so many talented writers (and made wonderful friends) by reading the entries to Anna's contests. I agree, the community of writers on Twitter is amazing and inspiring and makes the solitary process of writing A LOT more enjoyable. Jump in and join the fun!

  2. Oh yes.. More is most definitely less for us flashers..xx

  3. I've always found FF a lot more difficult than it looks ... perhaps I have too much to say :) I admire anyone who can boil a story down to 500 or fewer words. :)

  4. I love flash! And I'm looking forward to checking out Anna's contests!!

  5. Most excellent post, Anna! Thanks for thinking of it, Laura!

    I'm pleased to see your succinct summary of flash fiction. I too believe it to be not only a worthwhile literary style on its own, but also a very useful tool to challenge our writing skills and improve them.

    Well said, Anna - well said!

  6. I generally consider anything under 1000 words to be flash.

    There are two aspects to flash fiction (as opposed to longer forms) that I really appreciate. The first is the "instant gratification" aspect. I can write a self-contained narrative in an hour or so, post it on the internets and get feedback the same day. That rocks.

    The other thing I enjoy is the requirement not just to "show, don't tell" but to "imply, don't show". So much needs to be hinted at or pulled directly from your readers imagination and expectations. I revel in that challenge.

  7. Great post! Flash fiction is fun and inspiring! If I'm in a writing fuck I turn to flash to boost my creativity. But yes, I would completely agree with Anna, it can distract you from your work in progress. But sometimes we just need that!

  8. Thank you, Laura and Anna for a wonderful post. As a Flash Fiction debutante, the thrill is new and shiny and fun! What a great way to yes, take a break, and stir the creative juices when they've stalled! And thanks, Anna, for opening the gate for us to meander through.


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