Before 2017, I had never even heard of flash fiction. That was the year I hauled my dusty box of writing out of the closet to show my son, who also dreamt of being a writer. I had deduced many years ago while studying creative writing in university that my prose was much stronger than my poetry. Upon re-reading, my opinion hadn’t changed.
What had changed, however, was the world of writing and submitting. No longer did you carefully type your manuscript on a typewriter, place it in a box or an envelope with a self-addressed, stamped envelope (if you were submitting to someone who would send it back) mail it and wait. I began a deep-dive into the writing communities online. That’s where I discovered Ad Hoc Fiction. At the time, they ran contests for pieces that were 150 words or less which must include the weekly prompt word. The winning pieces would receive a free entry to the Bath Flash Fiction Award which is run three times per year and offers a prize of up to £1000. Occasionally, Ad Hoc would work with other publications such as Project Calm Magazine to publish winning entries.
As I began to read all about flash fiction (this is a good place to start if you want to know more), I realized it wasn’t completely unlike poetry. Nancy Stohlman wrote a book called “Going Short” which is an excellent guide to the art of writing flash fiction.
“Flash fiction is changing the way we tell stories. Carving away the excess, eliminating all but the most essential, flash fiction is putting the story through a literary dehydrator, leaving the meat without the fat. And it only looks easy.”
Five years after returning to writing, flash has been my most successful genre. I’ve been lucky enough to win three different Ad Hoc contests. The first of my winning pieces was originally a poem which translated perfectly into this format. I’ve appeared in anthologies and I have even been long-listed for a Bath Flash Fiction Award and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Safe to say I love the genre. So I’m going to give you a few things I think you absolutely MUST read if you’re interested in reading OR writing flash fiction.
Wild Life: Collected Works 2003-2018 by Kathy Fish. She is a master at the art and an amazing instructor. She offers a wide array of workshops that have resulted in many, many publications (including my own).
Absolutely anything from here, by Nancy Stohlman.
Toast Soldiers, by Bruce Meyer. As a note, Bruce is a contributor to this magazine and a very renowned Canadian poet with 70 book publications to date.
The Chemist’s House by Jude Higgins who is an amazing author, instructor, and writing event organizer.
These are just a few of my favourites. I could sit here all day and make a list, but I’d never finish this post.
Finally, Guernica Editions’ flash anthology, This Will Only Take a Minute, edited by Bruce Meyer and Michael Mirolla, is available for pre-order from Amazon to be released in November. I’m in this one!
Trasie Sands, Editor