Flash Fiction

By chance I downloaded two free ebooks the other day which were both described as flash fiction. Being unfamiliar with the concept although guessing that it was to do with short stories I checked it out. Definitions vary and alternative names include micro-story, postcard fiction and short, short story.
Word count can be as long as 1000 words; others specify 300 words max; one example specifies 55 words exactly. Earliest example of flash fiction appears to be Aesop's Fables and the form is practised throughout literary history by Chekov, Kafka, Arthur C Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Hemingway et al. Hemingway is credited with the shortest known example of flash fiction: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

75 X 75 = Flash Fraction by Helena Mallett is a collection of 75 short stories all captured in exactly 75 words. At first I thought this was a really weird way of writing but after reading the first few I was hooked and read the whole book in one go. What really excellent writing: each very short story had a tale to tell and covered a wide range of topics including birth, death, IVF, forbidden love, infidelity and alien abduction. Some stories made me laugh out loud and some were sad and poignant; all were entertaining and some had a surprising twist. I thought the whole collection was very clever and the discipline of fitting each piece into just 75 words really impressive. I didn't actually count the stories to make sure they really were told in 75 words - you just knew they were. Although I downloaded this collection as a freebie, it is worth every penny of its current selling price of £1.53; it deserves every star of its 5 star rating.

31 by Calum Kerr contains 31 stories written in the 31 days of  January 2011.This collection of flash-fictions includes a wide range of genres and styles and range in length from one to seven pages on the Kindle. Each story is perfectly formed; some are funny, some witty, some poignant, some surprising; all entertaining and very well written. Apparently Calum Kerr is the director of National Flash Fiction Day and he is clearly an expert in writing in this form. I enjoyed reading every one of the stories and although the form lends itself to reading in small bites, I read the whole lot in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As I said, I downloaded this as a freebie but it is well worth paying for at its current price of £1.95; another collection that deserves all the stars of its 5 star rating.

I looked up National Flash Fiction Day and found out that it was held on 16th May so I suppose that explains why the collections were on offer that day; anyway I've linked to their blog to follow developments for next year.