Monday, December 03, 2007

Mining the Flash Fiction Slush Pile

Each and every time I mine the slush pile, I am eager to discover a compelling piece of flash fiction.

Unfortunately--most of the time I come up empty handed. And as someone who both edits and writes flash fiction, I do genuinely understand the challenges associated with writing a compelling flash fiction story.

But the problem with most of the submissions I receive is that they aren't even meeting a quarter of what I consider to be the core criteria for creating compelling flash fiction.

Compelling flash fiction . . .

conveys a complete story—with a beginning, middle and end

requires a setting, situation/conflict and theme

contains (typically) no more than two characters, three at most

begins in the middle of the action and moves swiftly and efficiently to the end

encompasses a verbal, physical or mental conflict, difference of opinion or tension

contains a resolution and/or change in the protagonist, the antagonist or the reader’s mind

provides an ending with a strong narrative insight or opinion

enlightens, humors, saddens and/or ruminates and lingers in the reader’s mind

assembles a story in which every word is essential

intensifies verbal tone and emotion with tight active sentences, concrete nouns and strong verbs
avoids unessential modifiers and details that are not relevant to the story

avoids rambling exposition, redundancies and cliché themes

avoids the structure of a slice-of-life depiction, literary sketch, chattering essay or poem

may contain a dynamic twist ending

may embrace an experimental writing style that effectively pushes the boundaries of the reader’s imagination and expectations

The more elements of my core criteria that a flash fiction submission meets, the greater chance I will select it for publication and or an award--when I am asked to judge.

Back to the slush pile.

Coming soon . . .

I'll share some of my rejection notes

Choosing dynamic themes

2 comments:

Guy Hogan said...

Dear Flash Fiction Editor: You've put on the page a very complete checklist of the elements of a good and publishable piece of flash fiction. The parameters you lay out are excellent. They have helped me publish over thirty flash fiction stories in publications that include Word Riot, Chick Flicks Ezine, Steel City Review, Word Catalyst Magazine, The Front Weekly and others.

Diary of a Fiction Writer said...

Thank you, Guy. I visited your blog http://flashfictionnow.blogspot.com/ It's fantastic!

Your passion for writing flash fiction is obvious, and I look forward to reading some of your work.