I stumbled onto flash fiction in 2010 while working with PANK Magazine as a proofreader who also wrote interviews. Prior to discovering flash fiction, my focus was writing poetry to compete with at poetry slams and writing shorter poems for publication.
A poetry slam is a competition started in 1986 by Marc Smith, a Chicago construction worker. You have three minutes to perform a work of your own construction, no props, costumes, or musical accompaniment allowed. Your poems are scored typically by three or five randomly selected audience members on a scale from 0 to 10 based on content and performance. Writing for poetry slam teaches you how to create a short narrative to fit within or below the standard three-minute time constraint. You take into consideration your choice of words, imagery, rhythm, whether the main idea of the poem is solid enough for the audience and the judges to connect with. In flash fiction, you have to work within a word count constraint to (typically 1000 words or less). You have to choose the right words, craft the story around a compelling main idea, take into consideration how it sounds, how it reads. The lessons I learned as a recovering slam poet helped when I began writing flash fiction.
Flash fiction is amazing. The best flash fiction tells compelling stories within a condensed space. Discovering it changed my life as a writer and I think it can change yours too.
Enhance your skills at flash fiction! Join J. Bradley for the upcoming FWA webinar “What Poetry Can Teach Us About Flash” on Saturday, July 9th, at 11:00AM Eastern.