Flash Is Not
by Jonathan Cardew/ @cardewjcardew
I am a flash fiction writer, which means I write flash fiction. When I say this to people, they usually ask me what flash fiction is and I oblige them with an explanation. It’s very short fiction. It’s like a paragraph or a page. A flash. They nod in acknowledgement. Oh, they say. Oh, right.
It’s the qualifier, of course. The flash bit. Why specify? And I don’t always—most of the time, I just say I write fiction; I’m a fiction writer; I’m a fiction writer of works of a certain length.
So the flash bit is a justification? Or a badge of honor?
I decided to hit up Twitter, asking in my tweet to finish the sentence: “Flash is not…”
I don’t know why I flipped the question to a negative; why ask what something is not? But it seemed appropriate since flash fiction thrives in negative space.
The following are twenty-two tweet replies, in no particular order, finishing my sentence and attempting to answer that question in a different way:
Flash is not comfortable (@tabethanewman)
Flash is not timid (@wreffinej)
Flash is not your grandfather’s nose hairs (@rgvaughan)
Flash is not plodding (@Christopher_All)
Flash is not written to please anyone (@taniahershman).
Flash does not settle in; it doesn’t settle at all (@fabulistpappas)
Flash is not waiting (@VeronicKlash)
Flash is not to disrupt the flow of what it’s not, but I have a pressing question about what it is… reading for a lit mag and flash coming in 5-6 pages long doesn’t seem, well, flashy. Thoughts? (@bronwynnhdean)
Flash is not compliant (@melostrom)
Flash is not a boring rambling snoozefest (@ingram_wallace)
Flash does not seek to explain itself (@Jayne_Martin)
Flash is not devoid of depth and emotion (@laurabesley)
Flash is not meretricious (@Robcodbiter)
Flash is not a poem (@karjon)
Flash is not kind of a poem (@laurabesley)
Flash is not feeble (@melostrom)
Flash is not a matter of fewer words. It’s not an anecdote or a sketch or a vignette. It’s a much longer story that is compressed and written with a lot of words that you just don’t happen to see (@francinewitte)
Flash is not to be underestimated (@writingcircles)
If flash is not a vignette, when can you write a vignette? Poor maligned vignettes. I feel they need a home, recognition, tlc. Or are they the juvenile frame for flash? (@wordpoppy)
Flash is not welcoming (@steveXisXoc)
Flash is not very long (@nlordlancaster) A banana isn’t flash fiction (@samaveris)
[Tweets republished by permission of the authors]
Jonathan Cardew‘s stories appear in Passages North, Wigleaf, JMWW, Cleaver Magazine, People Holding, and others. He edits fiction for Connotation Press. Originally from the U.K., he lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.