FlashI already wrote a bit about the flash fiction session I attended at AWP last week, but I want to expand on it, now that I am writing on a laptop rather than an iPhone (which, by the way, worked so much better than I had hoped—another post for another day).

The panelists for “Flash Points: Publishing Flash Fiction in an Evolving Landscape” were these:

I first become interested in flash fiction from Christi Craig, whose Wednesday’s Word flash pieces I found captivating. It was at Christi’s suggestion that I began to use the flash form as a way to explore family diary entries I have been transcribing. I was hooked on flash in no time.

Here are some of my notes from “Flash Points”:

  • Avoid thinking of flash as simply a joke with a punch line. In fact, avoid punch lines or any other last lines that take over the rest of the piece.
  • Glenn Shaheen noted that humor often does work in flash when the piece has “a few emotions working simultaneously and against each other.”
  • Several of the panelists accept sequences of two, three, or more related flash pieces.
  • Roxanne Gay thinks of flash as an exploded diagram of a moment, but with a narrative arc. At the same time, she says that some flash pieces subvert a narrative arc with their form.
  • Almost all of the panelists said they see lazy writing trying to pass for flash. Flash fiction requires as much revision as longer forms, if not more, because every word bears more weight.
  • Several of the editors request revisions for submissions that have potential but are not quite ready.
  • While flash is known for surrealism, it can also be realistic.
  • Finally, what is the difference between prose poetry and flash fiction? The broad consensus: they are for all practical purposes very often one and the same.

Whether you are a flash veteran or new to the form, check out these submission guidelines for each of the featured publications:

Do you write flash fiction, or do you want to?

[Note: links for matchbook updated since original posting]