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How to Create Great Flash Fiction Characters

There are only three kinds of characters in flash fiction. Do you want to know who they are?

Whether you write flash fiction stories that are 100 words long or 1,000 words long, there are only three kinds of characters in a flash fiction story.  But that’s okay.  There are only there kinds of characters in fiction period.  There were only three kinds of characters in The Sun Also Rises.

The Sun Also Rises is my favorite novel.  Still, there are only three kinds of characters in the novel.

But flash fiction has a unique arch: a significant event with closure.  The significant event can happen in several different places.  It can happen just before the story begins, at the beginning of the story, near the end of the story or after the story is over.  I learned this from reading the work of Raymond Carver.  For years I thought Raymond Carver was writing sketches; but they where stories alright.  It was just that the significant event was not always included in the story.  What an epiphany this was for me.

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So, I went about writing my flash fiction secure in knowing that I was really writing very short stories and not sketches or vignettes.  Fifty pages of my flash fiction paid for my MFA in fiction writing.

Years before I decided to go back to school, I had a professor bring me into her office to critique one of my flash fiction stories.  She started off laughing at my characters.  This was in the 70s.  I still remember what she said.  “Your characters are so wooden.”

Well, I realize now that my characters were wooden.  She meant they did not act like real people.  They were all one dimensional.  They were all flat.  Because flash fiction is so short, two major characters are usually enough.  You may have a minor character or two, but two major characters are plenty.  And here are the three kinds of characters you have to work with.

  • A round character who is a person that has doubt or some sort of inner conflict
  • A flat character who has no doubt or inner conflict
  • A dynamic character who not only has doubt or inner conflict but who also has the ability to change

You always want to have a least one round character in your flash fiction.  And if that round character has the ability to change, even better.  My characters are no longer wooden.

Sex Videos (A Flash Fiction Story)

My blog is the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette

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