Do you love science fiction? Do you love writing and/or reading weird things? Does your attention move at warp speed?
If you answered, “yes, yes, and yes!”, flash fiction might be the niche for you.
A typical flash fiction story clocks in around 1000 words (for comparison, this post is about 400 words). With such a short space to work, plot becomes compressed and detail becomes more focused. Reading and writing flash fiction is a great way to learn how to pack more impact into writing, producing more vivid results.
Here’s what to keep in mind when exploring sci-fi flash fiction:
Keep It Focused
Traditional science fiction relies heavily on worldbuilding. The chance to explore invented worlds is one of the primary reasons fans of the genre love reading it and its authors love writing it.
A thousand words or fewer, however, doesn’t give you much time to produce the kind of texture and detail of epic worldbuilding. Instead, you’ll need to focus on a few key details, and allow readers to fill in the rest with their imaginations.
Keep It Close to the Flash Point
All good stories start close enough to the crisis point to allow the reader (or viewer) to understand very quickly what’s at stake and how the crisis point resulted from those stakes. In flash fiction, however, the distance between the start and the crisis, or “flash point,” is even shorter.
The best ultra-short science fiction stories tend to be subtle. Epic space battles are impossible to do in a thousand words—but a child’s singed boot lying in a middle of a corridor is an entire story in itself.
Keep It Real
Starting a piece of flash fiction with a self-imposed word limit is often a recipe for failure. Instead, simply write. You can trim later, and if the story ends up being longer than you anticipated, it might make an excellent piece of longer fiction—or even a novella.
As in any genre, reading flash fiction can help you learn to write it—or simply give you the chance to explore weird new worlds in a short time frame. Anthologies featuring traditional short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry on your chosen themes can help you see the craft of “out there” writing in action.