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Fiction With a Word Limit

In under 750 words or less, pour your character’s heart on a page and serve it to your reader on a silver platter. Easy, right? Ok, maybe not. Sure, the challenge might be painful but isn't all writing excruciating?

Extremely limiting or not, flash fiction is a wildly popular medium of storytelling for a variety of different reasons but most interestingly, you're no longer confined to writing 40,000 words in a month. Instead, you can procrastinate 750 words in that same amount of time. We won't judge!

All joking aside, the fact that short stories and flash fiction can find a home being published in anthologies, literary magazines, and even zines helps normalize writing fiction outside of large paperback epics. Not everything needs to be a novel. Some stories need a shorter format.

Built on the tenets of brevity, flash fiction is a wonderful exercise in restraint. If you are anything like me, restraint is an issue. It can be hard to dial down the dialogue and purple prose. I found that the trick is to focus your efforts on what’s important for the story and what you want to achieve. Is it the emotional journey of your character, a really kick-ass action scene, or an atmospheric moment of horror?

Flash fiction will help you learn to be concise and clear about what you want the story to tell and when. And if you re-enter the world of novel writing, it will help you put your all into even the smallest scenes.

Here are some tips to help you along the way!

  • Don’t bother building up the climax--you’ve only got a limited word count you don’t want to have to stop when the getting gets good!

  • Keep your cast to a medium, less confusion that way, and allow further exploration into the characters!

  • The first-person point of view can be a great asset to your flash fiction as it forms an instant connection to the reader!

  • Play around with your vocabulary to help create more punchy lines and keep everything concise!

  • Create a great title that tells the reader about your story!

What is your favorite thing about flash fiction? Do you prefer it over writing longer stories? Let us know in the forum!


About the Author: Taylor Vu is a writer from Portland Oregon who is in love with all things fiction!


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