Beginning my creative writing journey at age 13, I naively jumped into the project of writing a novel. Bad idea. In previous articles, I’ve stressed that writing a novel is like writing a marathon. If you haven’t practiced, even good luck isn’t good enough. Having learnt this lesson I began writing short stories, and progressively they became shorter and shorter rather than longer and longer. Was this a problem? No.
A piece of writing does not have to be long to be good, or even enjoyable. My new found love in writing has been flash fiction. Much like other lengths of writing, such as novellas and novels, how many words constitute as a piece of flash fiction is debatable, ranging from 300 words to 1500. Essentially, this causes restraints on how fully fleshed out a plot or character is. But this is where the beauty of flash fiction lies – the ambiguity means that many different people can have a very different take on what is going on. Even the writer, as have often been the case in my experience, can see a million different possibilities about where the story could go.
Flash fiction is also great for me because I tend plan a lot before I write, but with this type of writing I can just go with the flow. It has helped me adapt my techniques and loosen my obsession with intense preparation. This has also helped me feel a lot more creative, just thinking on my feet and seeing where my writing instincts take me!
I encourage all writers to experiment not only with flash fiction, but any type of writing they have not yet tried. Things that seem not suited for us are also often things we haven’t tried, but some things can really take you by surprise. Experiment, experiment, experiment!