Today I attended a flash fiction workshop hosted by Greenacre Writers and led by Ingrid Jendrzejewski, who has won a number of flash fiction competitions including the prestigious Bath Flash Fiction Award in 2016.
Ingrid's aim was to take us out of our comfort zone. She set exercises to do just that! She also introduced the concept of the iceberg where only a small proportion of the berg is visible with 90% beneath the surface. The limitation of words in flash fiction - be it 6 words or 1,000 - means keeping much of the story hidden. What is visible is only a small part of the story and needs precision so the reader can still understand it. To quote Hemingway, who says it so much better. "...a writer...may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them." (The Art of Fiction, No 21 The Paris Review.)
Ingrid also spoke about the many forms of flash fiction including prose poems. Different publishers seek different forms with some preferring the narrative style - a concise short story, while others publish the prose poem forms - research is key in finding the outlets for your particular style. She also gave us some excellent examples of flash fiction including stories by Tania Hershman to read and consider, as well as plenty of resources for books, workshops, and publishers for our work.
If you have the opportunity to attend one of Ingrid's workshops I can thoroughly recommend it!
I have had a few of my flash pieces published and many more rejected. On my return from the workshop I found a tweet from Reflex Fiction with a link to my piece 'No Mirrors' - its publication today meant it that while it reached the long-list in this competition, it hasn't made it any further. With renewed enthusiasm gained from Ingrid's workshop, maybe my next one will do better!
By discovering several typos as I was writing this, I can now confirm that several genres exist: flesh fiction (courtesy of Rosie Canning) lash fiction, flask fiction and flush fiction. Take your pick.