Flash Fiction and Short-Short Stories

Posted by dwallace on November 27, 2009 in 55 fiction, flash fiction, short-short stories |

Flash Fiction and Short-Short Stories are also sometimes called Micro-fiction or Sudden Fiction. Usually the parameters are that the stories are less than 1000 words and they have the classic story elements: a protagonist, conflict, a dilemma of some sort and resolution.

There are several books out there on Flash Fiction. The first one I read was called
Flash Fiction 72 Very Short Stories edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas and Tom Hazuka.

The second book I got in this style was called Micro Fiction An Anthology of Really Short Stories, edited by Jerome Stern who was a Professor in English at Florida State University. At the time, the stories had to be, “about 250 words long.”

Stern died in 1996 but The Southeast Review published by FSU has a contest every year called The World’s Best Short-Short. I think they’ve increased the word count to 500 words or less. I happen to like the 250 word stories better.

Another type of Flash Fiction is called 55 Fiction which is a term coined by New Times founder and publisher Steve Moss. The name of his book is The World’s Shortest Stories. In the 55 Fiction genre requires the story to has to be 55 words or less, not including the title. You need to be Ginsu-knife precise to write a story in 55 words or less. Often 55- stories usually have a last sentence shock or a surprise in the last sentence that completely changes the story.

Steve Moss has passed away since his book was first published, but the 55 words or less genre copyright is still owned by Moss’s family. It seems spooky to me that two of the major contributors to the Flash Fiction genre have already passed away. Both of their lives were like their work, short and to the point.

Here’s my very own 55 Fiction story:

Death for Breakfast

He sat down at the breakfast table and stared DEATH in the face. His eyes drifted off into the whiteness of the bowl, DEATH floated inches from his eyes.
I’m too young for this crap, he thought to himself.
“Honey,” he yelled. “Don’t ever buy Alphabet Cereal again.”

…if you count’em you’ll notice it was only 51 words; including the title.

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