Short Stories and Flash Fiction: The Simple Difference
There are many types of creative writing. There are novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, and more. What separates these types of writing from one another?
For a long time, when I first began to write, I thought short stories and flash fiction stories were one and the same. I knew they were short, quick reads and that was that.
What‘s the difference between a short story and flash fiction?
A short story is as it sounds. It’s a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, similar to a novel. The only difference is that it’s a lot shorter.
Short stories are typically 1,000 to about 10,000 words in length.
Within those words, you need a complete plot from beginning to end, well-rounded characters, and a developed setting and theme.
It’s said that short stories are harder to write because you’re constricted to such a small amount of words. If you’re used to writing novels or have complex plots, short stories can be difficult to achieve. However, I always found that writing short stories is great practice.
It allows you to develop your plot, characters, and everything in between concisely and to the best of your ability. Less is more, quality over quantity.
Flash fiction is the same as a short story and also a novel or novella. Again, the only difference is length.
Stories that are considered flash fiction are typically about 100 to about 1,000 words in length. Of course, there have been flash fiction pieces that are as short as six words.
Ernest Hemingway wrote the shortest (and also the saddest) story, which is well-known by many.
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Even though it’s just a few words you can get a clear picture of what’s going on. There’s emotion behind those words even though you don’t know the full story, but there’s enough there to imply what happened.
With that said, most flash fiction (depending on the length) will have well-thought-out plots and characters. However, you can play around with the words to give your readers more.
Allow your readers to think and to feel. Set the atmosphere and tone with strong vocabulary in a short amount of time. Let your reader infer what is going to happen.
You can do this with any story, no matter the length, but the tight length for flash fiction allows you to embrace the concise wording.
Which should you write?
Flash fiction and short stories as a whole are awesome to explore. They’ll both challenge your creativity and allow you to play with your ideas and words in ways that novel and novellas won’t due to the length.
Take a writing prompt (or any idea you may have) and write a flash fiction story and a short story using the same idea. See how different the story turns out. You’ll be surprised at what you can come up with.
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*This article was originally written and published on RachelPoli.com. It has been updated and modified.