The publishing industry has birthed a new redundancy: the “short-short” story. Another common name for the genre is “flash fiction,” yet I don’t like this phrase as much. To “flash by” means to appear briefly and vanish without much of an impression, but if done well, stories of this kind can pack as much force as a tightly clenched fist—denser and more powerful for their brevity.
Short-shorts are traditionally less than 1,000 words. Some say 300, some 500; the devil says 666 is the limit. Usually the story focuses on one significant event with a small group of characters. Notice, though, that all this academic chatter leaves a wide gap for the writer to fill. As a self-appointed Grand Poobah of short-short fiction—I have, after all, published two whole pieces of it—I’ve worked out a few guidelines for the flash-by story:
Anthony Otten has published stories in Jabberwock Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, Wind, Still: The Journal, and others. He has been a finalist for the Hargrove Editors' Prize in Fiction. He lives in Kentucky.
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