Skip to content →

How to Write Flash Fiction

If you want to know how to write flash fiction, read some advice compiled from aficionados of this most versatile of forms.

Let your title do some of the work, but don’t give away the story resolution with it either.

Thirteen Tips for Writing Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Online

Perhaps the greatest asset for a flash writer is the ability to create character through voice. That skill is well worth exploring, and the best exploration is either through just doing it, or by reading what others do.

Vanessa Gebbie, Flash Fiction, Writers & Artists

How to write flash fiction:

  1. Start in the middle.
  2. Don’t use too many characters.
  3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end.
  4. Sweat your title.
  5. Make your last line ring like a bell.
  6. Write long, then go short.

David Gaffney, Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction, The Guardian

When it comes to flash fiction you have to be clever. There will be instances where you will want to tell, instead of show. One sentence may be all you need to explain a sordid past as a stripper, hitman, or crooked banker. Think of the tip of the iceberg—show us that, but not the entire mountain of ice and snow.

Richard Thomas, Storyville: How to Write Flash Fiction, LitReactor

You only have room for one main character, so choose her well. What’s more, in a flash piece, this character has only one compelling need. Because flash fiction is about focus, all of her qualities focus themselves on supporting her single compelling need.

J Timothy King, 10 Flash Fiction Writing Tips, Be the Story

Common clichés that can mean a story lands in the reject pile:

  1. Cheap, throwaway, jokey twist endings.
  2. Earnest meditations on the meaning of life, with no plot or characters.
  3. Crazy surrealism for no purpose.
  4. Poems submitted as flash-fiction.
  5. Yet another story about suicide.
  6. Over-writing.
  7. Cheap sentiment.
  8. “Issue” stories, where the ending is supposed to teach us an important lesson.
  9. Strong stories with weak endings, where the writer seems to have lost courage.

Calum Kerr, Flash Fiction: What Not To Do, Litro

Writing short stories is about learning how little you need, about what isn’t written as much as about what is on the page. Flash fiction takes this to the extreme.

Tania Hershman, Want Tips from Short Story Author, Tania Hershman?, daily(w)rite

Try simplifying your story so that you focus on one idea or emotion.

Richard Thomas, Storyville: How to Write Flash Fiction, LitReactor

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief . . .

“Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.

Katharine Hepburn

The best way to improve your flash fiction writing is to write more flash fiction and read more flash fiction! We publish a new flash fiction every day. You can also search for flash fiction stories by author.