Flash fiction is a form of short story writing that is very tight and concise. It pulls the reader into the story with the barest minimum of exposition and gets into the middle of the conflict quickly. A flash fiction story does have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but those elements occur in as few words as possible.

With the advent of the Internet, editors are looking for shorter works, more easily read on a computer screen. The current term is “flash fiction”, a tale between 300-1000 words long. Longer than micro-fiction (10-300 words) but shorter than traditional short stories (3000-5000 words preferred by most magazines), flash fiction is usually a story of a single act, sometimes the culmination of several unwritten events.

Writers of flash fiction are very passionate about this writing form. It has been around for quite awhile, but has really become a popular form of writing since its enthusiasts have been able to spread the word and share their writings through the Internet.

Here are seven great steps that could help in writing Flash Fiction.

1) The small idea
Look for the smaller ideas in larger ones. To discuss the complex interrelationship of parents and children you’d need a novel. Go for a smaller piece of that complex issue. How kids feel when they aren’t included in a conversation. What kids do when they are bored in the car. Middle child. Bad report card. Find a smaller topic and build on it.

2) Bury the preamble in the opening
When you write your story, don’t take two pages to explain all the pre-story. Find a way to set it all in the first paragraph, then get on with the rest of the tale.

3) Start in the middle of the action
Similar to #2, start the story in the middle of the action. A man is running. A bomb is about to go off. A monster is in the house. Don’t describe any more than you have to. The reader can fill in some of the blanks.

4) Focus on one powerful image
Find one powerful image to focus your story on. A war-torn street. An alien sunset. They say a picture worth a thousand words. Paint a picture
with words. It doesn’t hurt to have something happen inside that picture. It is a story after all.

5) Make the reader guess until the end
A little mystery goes a long way. Your reader may have no idea what is going on for the majority of the story. This will lure them on to the end. When they finish, there should be a good pay off or solution.

6) Use allusive references
By using references to a commonly known story you can save yourself all those unnecessary words. Refer to historical events. Use famous situations from literature. If the story takes place on the Titanic you won’t have to explain what is going to happen, who is there or much of anything. History and James Cameron have already done it for you. Beware of using material that is too obscure. Your reader should be able to make the inferences.

7) Use a twist
Like #5, the twist ending allows the writer to pack some punch at the end of the story. Flash fiction is often twist-ending fiction because
you don’t have enough time to build up sympathetic characters and show how a long, devastating plot has affected them. Like a good joke, flash fiction is often streamlined to the punch-line at the end.

One purpose of Flash Fiction Ghana is to have Ghanaian settings, names and situations in flash fiction stories. This will be evident to any remotely Ghanaian reader and thus, we cannot set the bar for everyone. For instance, we cannot dictate that a village Aneum setting is more Ghanaian than an urban East Legon setting for your story. However you wish to write your story, do make sure it betrays ‘Ghanaian-ness’(no matter how undefined that is).

Hope these tips help. Get to writing!