Flash and Co.

I told a friend of mine the other day that I was enjoying getting into writing Flash Fiction. He looked at me a little strangely and I found myself wishing I hadn’t worn my trench coat out to lunch after all. So, in-between bites of smoked salmon, I explained what Flash Fiction was. Once home and sufficiently recovered from my salmon and Riesling stupor, I thought it might be a good exercise to describe Flash and his fiction cousins. (They’re rather an inbred mob, so try to ignore the identity confusion and squabbling.)


A Drabble is a story of exactly 100 words. It’s often misused to describe a short-short story. The purpose of a Drabble is to test the writer’s ability to write well in only a 100 words. (A Drabble is the dribble of the cousins and has a terrible inferiority complex.)

Flash Fiction:

Flash Fiction is generally fiction up to 1000 words, although often publishers are asking for stories between 250 to 750. Generally the most prominent requirement of flash is its brevity. Flash Fiction is sometimes also known as microfiction, micro-story, postcard fiction, sudden fiction, furious fiction and short-short story. (I told you the cousins are confused.) Flash Fiction, despite its length, should contain key elements of the classic story, such as character development, clarity, and conflict and resolution, although one or more of these elements might be implied only. The challenge is to tell a complete story in less than 750-1000 words. This has clear similarities to poetry, whereby every word is essential. And herein lies its appeal to me – making bare-bones writing sing with beauty. (Flash is brash and ballsy and will bare all with no warning.)

Short-short Story:

The short-short story is generally a story between 500-2000 words. This term will probably eventually be swallowed up by its hungry cousin, Flash.

Short Story:

A short story is usually around the 1000-7500 word mark, but can be anything up to 20,000. The classic definition being that it should be able to be read in one sitting. Short stories originate from oral story telling and are considered to be a more concise form than longer works of fiction and regarded as a very challenging art form. (Short is the most serious of the cousins, suffering from small-man-syndrome and an over-inflated ego.)


A novella is generally between 15,000 and 40,000 words. It’s longer than a novelette (7500, 17,500) and shorter than a novel. Of Mice and Men and Animal Farm are two examples of a novella. (Novella is shy and underdeveloped. All she wants in life is to get her first bra and be able stop bathing with her cousins – it’s humiliating.)


The standard length for commercial fiction is 100,000 words. Literary fiction has more leeway, generally ranging from 50,000-150,000 words. With changes to the publishing industry and the advent of pod (publish on demand), book lengths will no doubt become less important. (Novel is a bully, he’s King of the yard and throws his weight around with no regard to his lesser cousins, hence they hate him and call him fatty-fat-fat behind his back.)

Just write, I say, and then see which cousin has popped in to visit you…

Please submit your poetry, flash fiction, or other literary ramblings for the August Submission, which is now open.


Filed under Art, Fiction, Flash fiction, Poetry, Writing, Zines

16 responses to “Flash and Co.

  1. Haha, I have bookmarked this entry cos I have a terrible head for numbers especially when laughing and might need reminding.


  2. simonne, i loved All she wants in life is to get her first bra and be able stop bathing with her cousins it made me giggle. i wonder at all these terms. perhaps i’m behind the times, but to me there are only short stories, novellas and novels – the rest is subcategorization and genrenization that seems a bit nitzy to me. but maybe i’m just a grump. πŸ˜‰

    You’re not a grump darlin’, just old. OMG I’m kidding! πŸ˜‰


  3. Thanks for the education! Love knowing stuff like this.


  4. c

    i’m glad you’ve defined this way of writing.
    i dabble in flash- the short-short story being my especiality. i’ve a flash fiction blog but which i have totally slacked on, but it is challenging and very enjoyable.

    C, you’re extremely good at Flash – you actually popped into my head when I was writing this.


  5. hierophant4582

    I never knew about a few of those definitions. Good to know.


  6. Ohh! Methinks I need to dabble with the drabble!

    Dabble Whiti, dabble!


  7. You give a good explanation here. Mindst you, I’m not one for form. I naturally write with brevity, hence that’s why I fit into Flash.
    When I first began writing this form a couple of decades ago, I called them Doodles. But Flash is good!


  8. Grace

    πŸ™‚ The most I’ve ever written was about 25K words on my last “NaNoWriMo” attempt. It’s not finished, and frankly, I’ve re-read my original work on one time since putting the symbolic pen down last November.

    If I was ever motivated enough to be a ‘writer’, I’d probably like writing Novellas.

    I have ADD, see. Not sure if that’s an Aries thing or just a Grace thing, but I haven’t found whatever-it-is-I-need to go all the way.

    With the writing πŸ˜€

    25K is a fair swack Grace πŸ™‚ I understand the ADD thing – I’m an Aries too. It takes a lot of discipline to make yourself stick to one thing for alllllll those words!


  9. Thanks all πŸ™‚ I think most of us here write flash just about every day on our blogs. Paul unwittingly (or maybe there’s a whole lot of wit going on…) writes Drabbles occasionally and they’re extremely good (of course)!


  10. Hey Simonne,
    Wow, you made Sarah cry. You big meanie. LOL.

    I don’t know, I think we as a society have just gotten way to anal about stuff. To me, a story is story. I don’t care what you call it, as long as it’s a good read.

    Love the pic btw – hilarious.



  11. It’s like the whole second cousin twice removed, Bob’s your uncle and your grandmas brother. Or something. I don’t know.

    So the ADD, it’s an Aries thing then? Damn.


  12. Hey Annie. I am a big meanie aren’t I?! I would hate to make Sarah cry, I’d never forgive myself.
    I agree, we’re a very anal society, it’s time we loosened up a bit πŸ™‚

    You an Aries too Chris? Yep, sorry. My advice is to try and put it to your advantage.


  13. sandybarker

    I will keep this – always – as my guide and reference. And I have started to count words of my (hopefully) novel. : )


  14. Pingback: Drive me Crazy « Tauken

  15. Pingback: Bookmarks about Identity

Leave a reply, start a conversation - go on, you know you want to!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s