Critical Components of Flash Fiction and Flash Nonfiction

Flash fiction and flash nonfiction differ clearly in content, but many of the needs are the same given the conciseness of the form.

In an excerpt from The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Fiction, Nathan Leslie in his article, “The “V” Word,” states, “By focusing on language, scene, voice, and character, my students often find themselves writing compelling and effectively ambiguous stories rather than cloyingly serendipitous and artificial ones. By doing so they learn that in flash fiction:

• Accomplishing one clear goal is of utmost importance.

• Hemingway’s Iceberg Principle, and minimalist writing overall, can work wonders—understatement and purposeful ambiguity are vital.

• Every word bears weight.

• Imagery is of the utmost importance.

• Many works of flash fiction can employ a sudden twist, turn, or realization.

• Irony is helpful.

• Beginning in the middle saves precious time and space.

• Length restrictions can bring out great art.

For flash nonfiction, book author and editor of the journal Brevity Dinty W. Moore states in an interview at River Teeth Journal that “The imperatives are the same, but everything is dialed up in a shorter piece. You need to move in and out of scene quickly, you need to introduce language, diction, and rhythm immediately, and you need to establish place, character, and conflict right away – usually in the first sentence. The first paragraph of a brief essay has to do what the first chapter of a memoir does.”

So with that helpful information, it’s time to dive in and use it. Let me know what you think of what you’ve been reading about “Flash,” and also share any flashes you may be inspired to write. I would love to hear your questions and/or comments, as well as see your work!

More information:

Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction can be found at

Dinty Moore’s full interview can be found at

4 thoughts on “Critical Components of Flash Fiction and Flash Nonfiction”

  1. Since I recently started writing flash fiction for my blog, this proves really helpful. I know my final objective is to tell a story –however short–, but sometimes getting there can be confusing.

    1. Hi Joe, Thanks for your comment. Yes, flash is an art form in itself. I’m glad those components are helpful for you. They are definitely helpful for me! I would recommend The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. It is a fabulous resource.

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