What exactly is flash fiction? Flash fiction is a type of fiction writing defined by how short it is. Flash fiction is usually kept beneath a strict word count to tell a story in the least words possible. Some flash fiction tells an account in just a few words. Flash fiction dates back to the time of fables and parables. The form was popularized in the nineteenth century by writers like Walt Whitman, Kate Chopin, and Ambrose Bierce

Flash fiction can also have lots of different names. For example, it can be called micro-fiction, postcard fiction, short fiction, and more.

It certainly lives up to its name – it tells a story in a flash!

What are the characteristics of flash fiction?

  1. Length: As you can imagine, one of the primary characteristics of flash fiction. This puts the flash in flash fiction! There is no definitive word count for flash fiction. However, only used and agreed-upon agreed-upon. These word limits range from six to approximately 1,000 words on the longer end.
  2. Story structure: A flash fiction story differs from regular fiction stories. It is not the shortened version of a longer story; it still follows the elements of the plot, including a beginning, middle, and end, as well as a conflict and satisfying resolution.
  3. Descriptions: One may think that flash fiction stories are short on description to save space. However, a strong piece can balance vivid descriptions with a quick-moving plot. Accounts with a brief explanation are not satisfying, and a flash fiction piece should feel complete.
  4. Fast-paced plot: Just because your story is short doesn’t mean you can’t write an intriguing and interesting plot or storyline. A flash fiction story must have a wide field with a beginning, middle, and end.
  5. A twist: Great flash fiction that we want to read often includes a surprise, usually in the form of a twist ending or an unexpected last line.

What are the elements of flash fiction?

Even though it’s much shorter, flash fiction features all the same elements as a short story or a novel. This includes:

  • characters;
  • plot;
  • conflict/problem;
  • build-up;
  • resolution;
  • point of view;
  • style;
  • themes;
  • and tone.

However, the one thing that sets flash fiction apart from short stories and novels is that flash fiction typically explores these elements in around 1000 words or fewer. Some reports even use much less than that!

Flash fiction can explore just as many genres as novels or short stories.

What are some examples of flash fiction?

Fairy tales are some original and iconic examples of flash fiction. So, if you are looking for flash fiction examples to share with your students, why not break out some of those classic tales?

  1. Little Red Riding Hood: We all remember the story of little red riding hood, the little girl who was visiting her grandmother and was surprised by a wolf in her grandmother’s bed! This a classic example of flash fiction with a moral tale to never talk to strangers (human or wolf!).
  2. Hansel and Gretel: The German tale of Hansel and Gretel is one of the world’s most well-known fairy tales and tells the story of a brother and sister who encounter a gingerbread house, only to find that it belongs to an evil witch who plans to eat Hansel! Luckily, they manage to escape and find their way home using a trail of breadcrumbs.
  3. The Three Little Pigs: The moral lesson of The Three Little Pigs story is that hard work and dedication pay off. While the first two pigs build their houses quickly and easily, the third pig chooses the more difficult but stronger method of construction, which proves to be safer and more secure.

Famous examples of flash fiction

Flash fiction is not only written by students in the classroom. There are some very famous examples of flash fiction throughout history. For example:

  • The Pedestrian by Ray Bradbury
  • A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf
  • A Telephonic Conversation by Mark Twain

What are the different types of flash fiction?

Flash fiction is sometimes divided into subgenres, depending on word count:

  • Flash fiction: 1500 words maximum.
  • Sudden fiction: 750 words maximum.
  • Micro-fiction: 100 words maximum.
  • Dribble or mini-saga: 50 words maximum.
  • Six-word story: Any story with less than ten words.

Where did flash fiction come from?

Flash fiction is often considered a more ‘modern’ writing style popular with writers today, but it originates in fables and parables.

Aesop’s Fables and Grimm’s Fairy Tales are some early examples of flash fiction.

Writers such as Walt Whitman then popularised this form of writing in the 19th century.

Why is flash fiction helpful for children?

Flash fiction can be difficult to write well because the writer has to cover the plot, characters, themes, and more within a strict word count, but this form is perfect for writing practice.

Flash fiction allows children to practice constructing a cohesive plot and characters. The short word count means they’re able to finish their story within a short amount of time. For example, they could write the first draft of a flash fiction piece during just one lesson.

This allows children to learn how to write introductions, conflicts, and resolutions. They can practice new ideas all the time!

With flash fiction, there’s no pressure to write several pages of a story. Instead, children can explore a fun idea and practice using all the key elements of fiction in their writing.

How can you write flash fiction?

Here are some helpful tips to help your pupils start writing their flash fiction.

  • 1) Explore character through dialogue

There are not enough words in flash fiction to write lengthy character descriptions. Instead, it would help if you found new and unique ways to show the reader who the characters are. One of the most effective ways to do this is through dialogue.

  • 2) Jump right into the action

The plot keeps the story moving, which is especially important for flash fiction. Well-paced action is essential for any piece of short fiction.

  • 3) Plan out the story

When unsure where the story’s headed, it’s easy to get off track and start writing over the word count. To prevent this, your pupils should plan their story’s beginning, main conflict, build-up, resolution, and ending before they start writing. Will there be a surprise twist at the end?

This Story Planning Writing Frame will help children to plan out the main plot and structure of their flash fiction.

  • 4) Make every word count

Words are precious in every story, but they have to pack a punch when there’s a limited number of them! Encourage children to use powerful verbs and adjectives to help their writing be the best it can be.

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