Why Flash Fiction?

As we count down to our debut story on February 1st – which then kicks off a new story dropping every other week – we wanted to first take a closer look at what makes flash fiction resonate as it does for so many people. After all, it’s not just a shorter short story. There’s something more going on here. And what better way to explore that than to ask some of our most favorite flash fiction writers and editors one important question:

What do you love most about flash fiction?

Tommy Dean

“I love how flash reads with both urgency and depth, how flash relies on implications created by the writer to provide the reader with an opportunity to engage with the story through inference and personal feelings. I love how flash can take us anywhere from reality to fabulist, to some new resonant space we didn’t see coming! Flash challenges us to read closely, wisely, but open-heartedly!”

Kathy Fish

“What I love most about flash fiction is how beautifully it lends itself to innovation and experimentation.”

James Tate Hill

“‘Geology is the study of pressure and time,’ Red tells us in The Shawshank Redemption. ‘That’s all it takes, really.’

He’s talking about Andy Dufresne’s unprecedented escape from the penitentiary, chiseling his way through the concrete wall, pebble by granular pebble.

But put a writer in a tiny box, smaller than a thousand words, say, and watch the myriad, creative ways they tunnel out.

‘Pressure and time.’

The narrative clock starts ticking with the first word. Flash fiction insists that readers care, dares us not to care. Some of its colors and shapes and brushstrokes might look gaudy on a larger canvas, but it knows exactly what it wants to show us.

‘I know a place down in Mexico,’ flash fiction tells us with a dreamy, irresistible smile.

We’re there before we know it.

Cheryl Pappas

“At a museum in Florence a couple of years ago, I stood just outside a grand glassed-in courtyard, sunlight beaming on the marble floor within. I adjusted my eyes and noticed right in front of me a tiny boxed frame in the glass. I peered in to find a miniature red house, in astounding detail. It had a yard and children playing in it. A garden. It was a whole world encapsulated in this tiny space, and I had almost missed it. The sharp clarity of it—and its unexpectedness—sparked my imagination instantly. That, to me, is what flash gives and what I love about it. It’s a hyper-condensed world that we can see clearly because it’s so focused.”

Meg Pokrass

“After reading thousands of stories for Best Microfiction each year, what I see is how there is no formula. For flash to be memorable, it has to be told in a way that only that person can tell it and as with all good writing, it must come directly and painfully from the heart.”

Ross Showalter

“What I love most about flash is its ability to bring weight to a moment, or a series of moments; it’s a form that reminds us that you can write about anything you care about and make that subject resonate, even on a small scale.”

Cathy Ulrich

“There’s so many things I love about flash fiction. I guess what I love most is that it’s not quite like anything else. It’s not a short story, it’s not a poem, it’s not a snapshot — but it contains elements of all those things. I guess what I’m saying is what I love most about flash fiction is it is so much larger than any one thing. Despite its brevity, flash can contain worlds.”

Kara Vernor

I love that it doesn’t need to be more than it is. And yet, it is.”

Tara Isabel Zambrano

“I love flash because it has to handle all the artistic elements of characters, setting, plot, conflict in a limited space with a nice spread of language, imagery and rhythm, even surprise that doesn’t look clever, but something the writer has been building from the first sentence itself.”