Flash Forward

Out of the chaos of the web has emerged a cultural phenomenon that, on the surface, seems to contradict everything you would expect from a disorganized universe: brevity, clarity, and care. The phenomenon I’m talking about is flash fiction. This unique contraction of literature may change what we think of when we think about storytelling.

A rough sketch: the guidelines of what makes flash ficiton “flash” is determined by editorial preference. 1000  words or less is  ballpark number to look for, but some extend the paramaters at will.

There is rich literary tradition of elliptical, episodic, or fragmentary writers, so this new genre cannot be dismissed as a warped reflection of an attention-deficient populace. Pascal, Montaigne, Cyril Connolly, and, more recently, David Markson are all masters of the this style.

The art of the truncated story has now reached the web, and time-starved writers and readers can enjoy the addictive lure of plot and the bounty of words at any moment. It is accessible and portable, for sure. But how much of it is good? More then enough, in my opinion. Here are some places to visit and find out for yourself:

Flashquake publishes high-quality fiction, just long enough to be evocative, not long enough to be indulgent. For further evidence that the medium is encouraging creative discipline among writers, check out Nanoism– parables, snippets, and blooms of prose poetry- this is innovation-in-action

For the purest forms of flash, check out the hyper-refined pieces at Fictionaut and Six Sentences.

If it’s the vanguard that you seek, explore the boundaries of literature at Anemone Sidecar, an assembly of prose and poetry.

For a comprehensive list of the latest flash sites and a rich collection of flash pieces, visit FictionDaily.org (where I found all of the site above).

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