If you can tell a complete story in 1000 words or fewer, hundreds of paying markets are looking for your work. You won’t get rich (usual payment is about $10), but you’ll find there are other rewards:
- Real writing credits. Queries to editors look better if you can show someone bought and published your work. Flash Fiction provides a great place to start.
- Feedback. Chances are, editors will ask for changes before they publish, and some will comment even when they don’t buy your work. In addition, while friends, relatives, and writing buddies might not get around to reading your novel, they’ll find the time to look at these tiny tales and provide critiques.
- Experience. These are real stories — with beginnings, middles, and ends, just like their bigger siblings. Creating a character, a hook, obstacles, and a satisfying ending within a few pages can provide practice that builds your skills as a storyteller. And you can write dozens of Flash Fiction stories in the time it takes to write a novel.
- Prototypes. If you wonder if a character or a concept will work, this is a great way to create a working model without much time investment. Your Flash Fiction story may even blossom into a full-length novel.
- Discipline. While many writers have novels that aren’t quite finished for a variety of reasons, there’s no excuse for not completing Flash Fiction stories. They can help you build a habit of getting your work done and submitted.
- Recreation. Writing short fiction between longer works can provide a break from the rigors of word counts, plotting, and developing character profiles – while maintaining the daily habit of writing.
There can be more personal reasons. One student of mine had the goal of honoring her deceased son with a story. When she completed it and read the story to the class, everyone was in tears – including me.
Writing Flash Fiction is challenging. Creating a satisfying story in just a few words requires focus and care. But the effort pays off, even when there isn’t a sale at the end.
If you’d like to learn more about writing Flash Fiction, join my online Savvy Authors workshop, Write Flash Fiction! (December 2-22). We’ll workshop your stories, explore what makes a story successful, and look at where you can sell your completed works.
PETER ANDREWS is a full-time, independent writer of speeches, articles, and blogs. He has dozens of short stories and hundreds of nonfiction articles in print. He has worked professionally in PR, and as a Web producer, speechwriter, and radio producer. He is the author of the popular How To Write Fast Blog.