Robert Siegel—Flash Fiction

Monday, June 18, 2012 - 2:57pm
What is flash fiction? You’ve read it, perhaps even written it in class: super-short stories, anywhere from a paragraph to a couple of pages in length, sometimes zeroing in on a single moment of experience, sometimes trying to tell a whole life story in a handful of lines. In recent years, flash fiction has moved from the margins to the center, grabbing attention at literary magazines and spawning anthologies. Some of our best contemporary writers do their most challenging work in the form. Nevertheless, flash fiction is hard to define. Look at it one way and it seems to be related to folktale and parable—streamlined forms that know how to cover a lot of ground in few words. Look at it another way and it seems to have its roots in poetry, particularly the prose poem, with its emphasis on the power of language and image to alter the reader’s perceptions in a single magical moment. It’s a hybrid, which makes it great for both fiction writers and poets to explore. In this hour, we will take a look at some examples of flash fiction, considering what makes them work, what makes them different, and what makes them valuable for writers learning the craft. Be sure to bring pencil and paper because we’ll be writing some of our own.