Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest Post by Cherie Reich

I'm delighted to have Cherie Reich here today. Cherie will discuss why writers should consider writing flash fiction. Blow us away, Cherie!
Flash fiction is typically very short fiction a 1000 words or less and involves the characterizations of longer works with its use of setting, characters, plot, dialogue, theme, etc. Writing flash fiction can help a writer in many ways. Let me tell you how.
1. Flash fiction is short.
Well, we all know it is, but it is also helpful. Writing a novel can take a long time. Finishing a flash fiction piece is almost instant gratification. Generally, they can take minutes to a few hours to write, and they are much easier to edit than a novel.
2. Flash fiction teaches brevity.
You can’t be long-winded in flash fiction. Every word counts, so writers can learn to use their words most effectively with stronger nouns and verbs to move the action. There is less chance of overwriting a flash fiction story, and a writer can focus on the most important parts of the scene.
3. Flash fiction is practice.
Writing well takes lots of practice. They say to become a master at anything you have to practice for 10,000 hours (or around 1,000,000 words). Writers can use flash fiction to practice their weaknesses. For example, I have troubles with descriptions/setting, so I will sometimes write a flash fiction piece that is all about the descriptions/setting. The practice in a smaller form really helps.
4. Flash fiction can teach you more about your characters in a longer work.
Have a novel you want to write but need to learn more about the characters? Some writers interview their characters or write out biographies for them. A writer can use flash fiction to see how the character reacts to a certain scene from their past (backstory) to help the writer understand the character more.
5. Flash fiction increases creativity.
Spending fifteen minutes or less on a flash fiction piece can open up your creative juices. You can play around with a tough scene and see where “what if” gets you. Random stream of consciousness gets the right brain working, and because flash fiction is short, then you can write it and then start in on your novel afterwards.
6. Flash fiction is fun.
With flash fiction, you can write anything. Want to try your hand at a new genre? Then, write a flash fiction piece. That way if it goes horribly wrong, then you haven’t wasted months writing it. But it could go wonderfully well, and then you might have a new story to write. Play around with prompts, such as a random line you come across or a picture. You never know what you’ll find when you write flash fiction.
Let your mind explore while your fingers type. Have you ever written flash fiction?
About the Author
Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her ebooks include The Nightmare Collection series, Gravity trilogy, and The Foxwick Chronicles series. She is a member of Valley Writers and the Virginia Writers Club and has been a participant of #fridayflash off and on since July 2010. For more information, please visit her website or her blog.
I should try writing flash fiction! I think it could benefit me as a writer. But I write nonfiction - film reviews and memoirs. Transitioning to a new genre would be tough for me. I will wait and see.
Thank you Cherie!
Nancy S. Thompson's The Mistaken blog tour is visiting Alex J. Cavanaugh and Arlee Bird today! Make sure you visit Alex and Arlee! We have been throwing a big party for Nancy in the blogosphere and don't miss it!


  1. I have found flash fiction to be very helpful. I've done a few timed contests just for practice and it's helped me loosen up and work faster.

  2. I've never written flash fiction, but if it helps with descriptions, I probably need to try it.

  3. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Livia!

    S.P., I haven't tried out any timed contests before. That's not a bad idea.

    Alex, I really have found it helps with descriptions. Sometimes I'll just have a description in mind and use the flash fiction piece to try to set the scene.

  4. I've tried flash fiction a few times and did enjoy it. I appreciate Cherie's advice, I know she's great at it. Thanks for sharing Cherie and Livia!

  5. Love flash fiction and you make excellent points Cherie. I think FF is also a good way to experiment with different genres because you're not having to invest a lot of time in it.

  6. Aww, thanks, Julie!

    Elise, I completely agree. I experiment with so many genres in my flash fiction pieces.

  7. Loved these thoughts on FF. Truly a wonderful medium for a writer to dabble in. Really does take a lot of skill to pull off!

  8. First, thanks for the shout out...AGAIN! Second, flash fiction used to intimidate the heck out of me. Then I participated in Rachrl Harrie's Challenge & not only did I discover I COULD do it, but I did it well. It truly does force you to look at every single word for impact. And Cherie, if you want a good example on setting & description, read any John Hart book. He's the master. Won the Edgar Award twice. The key is tie setting & description directly to the character's emotions. Great post!!

  9. love this article, cherie is so helpful & talented! and flash fiction is def perfect for testing a new genre!

    have a beautiful weekend ladies!

  10. E.J., great writing takes skill, but flash fiction helps a writer further develop the craft of writing.

    Nancy, thanks so much for the book mention. I'll have to look up these John Hart books. And I fear my characters are sometimes not as observant to their settings/descriptions as I need them to be. LOL! Congrats on your book coming out too!

    Tara, thank you! I hope you have a great weekend too!

  11. Excellent post. Writing flash fiction has taught me a lot about writing, and I believe it's made me a better writer. I've learned a lot from Cherie too.

  12. Great post from Cherie. I love flash fiction, I should do it more! It definitely is great practice and helps you focus on the essentials. I also love the tip about throwing a character from a WIP into a FF scene. I'll have to try that!

  13. I found writing short stories very instructive in improving at writing novels. My flash rarely stays flash... sigh. Maybe I'll work on some for AtoZ this year.

  14. Great guest post by Cherie. I've only started writing flash and short fiction this year, always working on novels before, and I have to agree, it definitely helps my writing.

  15. Hey,

    I love doing Janet Reid's Flash Fiction contests... 100 words... and they are awesome fun :)

  16. Aww, thank you, Christine!

    Thanks, Nick! FF is definitely great for practice.

    It can be hard to keep flash fiction stuck to being flash fiction, Mary. Some stories require more words.

    Thanks for stopping by, Charmaine! I'm glad writing shorter fiction has helped with your writing.

    I keep meaning to try one of Janet Reid's flash fiction contests, but I haven't had an idea strike me yet when she creates them. Maybe one day, Mark. :)

  17. I have never tried writing flash fiction. You, however, are really good at it! I love reading your flash fiction! Thanks for sharing these tips!

  18. Great post! I've actually been gearing up to do flash fiction, but didn't know where to start.

  19. Aww, thanks, Sherry! Flash fiction is just one of those things you have to keep practicing at to get good at it.

    Anthony, just start writing. Find a prompt. Snag a first line from somewhere and just see what you come up with. :)

  20. Excellent post! I write some flash fiction, and really enjoy it. I need help with descriptions in my writing too. I find writing prompts really helpful, but I also like to explore characters with flash fiction vignettes. Flash fiction definitely helps keep my creativity alive!

    Thanks for writing this Cherie - it's good to be reminded of all the benefits of flash fiction!