I'm a huge fan of creative writing. It's what I went to school for, it's what I like to do in personal time the most. I like the act of creating stories, and sharing those stories with others. It brings me a certain level of joy to see somebody enjoying something I've created.
However, that can prove to be a difficult task for writing that's a bit long. Sure, good friends will read it, maybe the occaisional internet stranger. But generally, once you get over a certain word count, people clock out. It is an unfortunate truth of our modern reality.
That being said, though, there is a happy medium here. It's Flash Fiction.
For those of you who mightn't be familiar with the genre, let me explain. Flash fiction is writing that is generally not longer than a few pages. The stories can be as short as a single sentence, and indeed many of the best ones are very short.
Flash fiction tasks you with creating an engaging, developed story in just a small amount of space. It makes it not only fun, but challenging. It can be difficult to write bigger ideas into smaller spaces. Especially if you tend towards over-writing, like I do. But when it's done well, it reads easily and it is not something a reader will struggle to finish.
There's a famous example of some Flash Fiction, courtesy of Ernest Hemignway. as the story goes, Hemingway was lunching with some other famous writers - including Arthur C. Clarke, and bet the table $10 that he could write a novel in just six words. They took the bet and he wrote this story on a napkin and passed it around:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
This story netted him the pot, as well as a place in history as one of the progenitors of flash fiction. Within this simple six words is an entire world of feeling. You know exactly what's being said, and the emotions inherent in it, with a breath's worth of storytelling. That's the objective of flash fiction.
When I was first being taught Flash Fiction, I had a great instructor. The first assignment she gave us was to write three 1-sentence stories, and that really is the best place to start. Try to convey a strong, single idea in just a few words.
Something to keep in mind is that with flash fiction, the title can be as important as the story itself. The title can inform the reader as to what the underlying idea is in a story. Here is one of those stories I wrote, as example:
It was dark, and we were laughing as we sped along – right up until we weren't.
With the combination of the title and the words, a clear picture is drawn in the mind of the reader. You know what the story is driving at (no pun intended). This is the purpose of flash fiction. To tell a story, establish its world, and deliver its message - very quickly.