I have a new addiction. It’s not chemical, which is no doubt a good thing. It’s Flash. Not FLASH! Ah-ah! of the infamous movie that has over the years made it so that whenever I hear Brian Blessed speak, all I can hear is “Gordon’s alive?”. Nor is it the multimedia software, although sometimes I find a game on a website and I’m there a while. No, I’m talking about Flash Fiction.

So am I any good at it? Well, I don’t know. I’m good at keeping to a strict word count – some groups and competitions set a tight limit of 250 words, others 100. But years of writing limericks and haikus as an exercise in word play and certain other pursuits have fine tuned writing within a limit. When I write to a restricted count, I like to be bang on the total; not one word under, not one over and that, I think, is the addictive part.

It’s the Wiki of fiction. But I was struck by something about it that reverberates with the warnings expounded by one of my favourite novels of all time. Fahrenheit 451 by the late Ray Bradbury tells how the world in which books are burned evolved from a world where people demanded ever shorter, more concise versions of everything.

So is flash fiction a good thing, or is it the flash point of the fire that burns our literary heritage? As a warm up exercise, no pun intended, it works for me. It takes far less investment of time and deliberation than a traditional short story. It’s far more throwaway. But that’s the thing that scares me a little about it’s growing popularity. In the world of wikis and tweets, will we soon forsake the book? Or is it all just a flash in the pan..?


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About julietmchugh

Fiction writer from the North East of England with a taste for the gruesome and macabre.

2 responses to “Flash!”

  1. Kate Gilmore says :

    Interesting, and I see no harm in it. Anything that exercises the writing muscles is good. But the Bradbury idea really gives me pause. (Must read that book along with about a thousand others.) I have noticed the way written pieces are becoming shorter and less substantial, although blogging gives people who can’t stop blabbing a huge new venue in which to say nothing, a mean remark not aimed at either you or me! Keep thinking.

    • julietmchugh says :

      I’m just as guilty of babbling as anyone else, Kate. My excuse is that the cat doesn’t really listen. I’d rattled out five 250 word stories to try my hand at not babbling for quite so long before I remembered Bradbury’s warning. These days Tolstoy would be told to make War and Peace a trilogy to keep a book thin. It could be symptomatic of the fact that reading is no longer such a luxury. Much as when food is scarce, the fashion is to be fat and now that it’s plentiful the fashion is to be stick thin. I could babble for a long time about it!

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