Most writers fail at writing flash fiction because they neglect this one very simple principle of the very short story.
Image via Wikipedia
One of my most recent publications on Triond is the very short story, “Flash Fiction: Lesbian Lust”. Now obviously from the title it is two things: a flash fiction story and a story about female sexuality. A writer with little experience in writing flash fiction might take the topic of lesbianism and write about two women having sex. “Flash Fiction: Lesbian Lust” is about far more than sex.
The story is about power. It’s about journalism. It’s about attraction. It’s about death and loving. It’s about the choice of a life style. It’s about memory. And yes, it’s about finding one’s sexual orientation.
A novice flash fiction writer might think that with the sensational subject of lesbianism, that was what the story was about and that should be what the story should focus on: two young women getting sweaty together. If that was all the story was about it would be a very dull story, indeed.
The novice flash fiction writer who writes about sex must remember sex does not take place in a vacuum. Sexuality is only one facet of human nature. Many things define us. Sex is but one. It may be the most important one (take away sex and you have no people) but it is not the only one.
When a novice flash fiction writer makes sex the only thing going on in his or her flash fiction story, or for that matter in any story or even a novel, the characters are one dimensional which makes the story one dimensional which makes the reader bored.
So, the lesson here is not to think of the flash fiction story as a finite entity but as a small window onto the vast human story. Flash fiction tells this story a few hundred words at a time. The trick is to make these few hundred words resonate with the vast human story.
As Hemingway was to have reportedly said, “You have to live it up in order to write it down.”
The flash fiction writer, no matter what the subject of the story is, is really trying to write about life.