How to Write a Flash Fiction: A Working Analysis

In my previous blog post, I discussed six tips to keep in mind when writing any flash fiction, no matter the word count. I thought it might be helpful to show everyone how I have considered them when writing my own stories. Let’s first get a quick recap of those tips (feel free to review my previous blog and then dive into the process considering a recent flash fiction of mine. At the end, I will provide you with the entire story in order for you to analyze how it all comes together.

1. Strong Imagery

2. Fewest Moments

3. Fewest Characters

4. Emotional Tension

5. First Person Point of View

6. Use the Title

First, let’s consider strong imagery – the old ‘Show vs Tell.” I have often enjoyed browsing through pictures for inspiration, usually on Instagram (as I follow many wonderful photographers). Sometimes I have used a picture to spark a feel for a story, while at other times I have used the image within the story itself as a location. For this flash fiction, I used both strategies. Take for instance this first photo.

My mind immediately conjured an eerie feeling, but also a nostalgic family setting. Shortly after I had chosen this photograph for inspiration, I wrote the following opening sentence.

It was nearly dawn, and the children were running amuck around the candlelit house

with their old nursemaid, Eliza, trailing behind, huffing, puffing, and shaking her


In this sentence, I have provided the reader a sense of time, dropping him in the middle of an everyday action, clarifying not only a clear picture of the activity, but the roles of the participants. Children running in disarray with someone who is potentially out of shape and out of their element. I provided a sense of emotion as well by using the characters’ nonverbals (showing, not telling). This opening line has set the stage quite nicely (in my very biased opinion) for the entire story.

Regarding the second photo, I use it more literally in my description of a setting in the story.

Not far from the estate, within their acres of forests and creeks, there stood a stone

bridge. Arched and beautiful, old but sturdy, it had been constructed by the

children’s grandfather, an engineer, who had died years before they had been born.

The second tip from above embraces the idea at using fewer scenes and moments. Although

I technically used three scenes in this flash fiction, I split the major scene and incorporate a flashback (via a story told by one of the main characters), and have a brief flashback within a flashback to add depth to the family. Here is snippet that includes both.

Of course, when she had initially showed them the overpass, they were unimpressed,

having had no knowledge of such marvels of legacy, and, at the first opportunity,

began running along its path, giggling.