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Hello again!


Well, the dust has settled, we have patched our wounds and salved our bruises, and we can finally announce the list of stories which have made it through into the first ever National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology.

The collection will be entitled Jawbreakers (taken from the story submitted by Jen Campbell) and is, well, just amazing!

The job of type-setting, proofing and publishing is already underway and we hope that the book will be available in the first week of May. Keep an eye on this blog, our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/nationalflashfictionday) and our Twitter feed (@nationalflashfd) for more news on that as we have it.

A big, big thank you to all of you who submitted, the standard was extremely high and we are just sorry we didn't have space to include you all. But, don't forget, there are many more opportunities (with others coming along all the time) listed on our site at http://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/.

Now, without any more ado at all, here is the full list of pieces that will be in the anthology, commissions and accepted submissions:

Accepted Submissions:

‘Porcelain’ by Alex Thornber
Repetition’ by Amy Mackelden
Love’ by Benjamin Judge
Fiver’ by Bob Jacobs
Chemoids’ by Brian George
Arabesque’ by Brindley Hallam Dennis
Mauve’ by Carrie Etter
Peekaboo’ by Dan Powell
Cheese’ by David Gilbert
Marmite’ by David Morgan
Ciphers’ by Eli Goldstone
Elephant’ by Erinna Mettler
Boy’ by Jay Barnett
Jawbreakers’ by Jen Campbell
Blackhole’ by Jessica Patient.
Buttons’ by Kevlin Henney
Beauty’ by Kylie Grant
Superman’ by LA Craig
Rivals’ by Laura Wilkinson
Pink’ by Mark Sheerin
Wrapped’ by Martha Williams
Ash’ by Natalie Bowers
Favourite’ by Nathan Good
Bar’ by Nicholas Murray
Troll’ by Nick Garrard.
Inked’ by Rin Simpson
Ed! ’ by Rupan Malakin
Harps’ by Sal Page
Instructions’ by Sara Crowley
Summertime’ by Susan Giles
Celia’ by Susan Walker-Stokes
Shed’ by SJI Holliday


Commissioned Stories:

‘Quick’ by Ali Smith
‘Elsewhere’ by Alison Wells
‘Home’ by Calum Kerr
‘Bonding’ by David Gaffney
‘Bee’ by Emma Lannie
‘Waterman’ by Eunice Yeates
‘Fieldwork’ by Ian Rankin
‘Hammer’ by Jenn Ashworth
‘Camenbert’ by Jonathan Pinnock
‘Rapture’ by Kirsty Logan
‘Minutes’ by Nigel McLoughlin
‘Quinquireme’ by Sally Zigmond
‘Dinghy’ by Sarah Hilary
‘Natural’ by Sarah-Clare Conlon
‘Boom’ by Simon Thirsk
‘Stopwatching’ by Tania Hershman
‘Missing’ by Trevor Byrne
‘Space’ by Valerie O'Riordan
‘Flight’ by Vanessa Gebbie


And we will be including the winners of the Micro-Fiction competition too:

‘Relieving Mafeking’ by Alun Williams
Meredith’ by Amy Mackelden
The Worst Head in the World’ by Angela Readman
New Build’ by Clare O'Brien
Black Hole’ by Dan Carpenter
Sad Lover’ by Jason Bagshaw
New Shoes’ by Jenny Adamthwaite
She'll Leave You For a Man’ by Kirsty Logan
First Person’ by Martha Williams
Alterations’ by Tim Stevenson


Very many congratulations to everyone who made it in! It promises to be quite an amazing collection of stories. And thank you all for your support.

I am guilty of taking myself too seriously. Not to a crazy degree but just to the point of over thinking things a little too often. Over the last couple of years I have been writing short stories almost daily. I have figured out my style, the way I like to write and the things I like to write about and it is working. As a result however a few months ago I found that almost all of the stories I have written recently are of a similar length and invariably centred on a group of fictional friends.

This was not a problem, in fact it was an aim. I had fallen in love with this group of characters and I wanted to write a collection for them to live in. The problem was that every story I wrote was about them and between two and five thousand words. If I had an idea for a story that none of my characters fit in with, or was really short, I would pop it in my notebook and forget about it. I had to be focussed if I was going to get this collection done. Writing took discipline. I’d been told that a thousand times.

But, if there is one thing I have learnt over the years of writing, and receiving advice about writing, is that you should never close your mind to new ideas. I had been ignoring this advice and it lead to what I guess was writers block.

After a few weeks of frustration editing, trying desperately to believe that I was still writing, I decided to go back to my roots.

One of the first stories I had published was a flash-fiction called Movies and Stories From Friends. It was a six sentences long musing about a girl loosing her virginity at a party. I remember writing it in about two minutes; I then spent two months editing it but the feeling that remains is those two minutes. That flash of going from inspiration to finished story in less time that it takes to brew a cup of tea. I wanted that back.

So I put all my current stories to one side and cleared my head of those character names and their voices. I thought I’d try to write a couple of flash-fiction stories. I emptied my brain and waited for it to fill up with new stuff.

It worked. Without constantly thinking about my story collection or the characters who lived in it and focussing solely on trying to write something flash length, I managed to write three flash fictions a day for a month and a half.

I wrote stories about self-service check outs with attitudes, voodoo cigarettes, pre-apocalyptic imaginary zombies, vengeful guitar strings and a tonic that can turn humans into chameleons. Nothing I had ever written before prepared me for these stories, or even hinted that I might some day write stories like this. It was the most incredible creative burst I have had in a long time.

This burst was prolonged by one of my current undertakings: the National Flash-Fiction Day project Flashpoints. I’m one of a small team consisting of myself, Emily Cleaver and Rachael Dunlop, under the captain and champion of all flash-fiction endeavours Calum Kerr. Together we’ve been working on this project that we have dubbed “a site-specific mass writing event.”

Flashpoints is for everyone, wherever you are in the world. This is not a lit mag or blog in the traditional sense; it is a completely open writing project to celebrate the joys of flash-fiction. Anyone can get involved.

At Flashpoints we encourage people to get out in the world, writing flash-fiction rooted in their surroundings. We ask them to write stories on a single page, photograph where they are and send it all in to us at nffdflashpoints@gmail.com. Some contributors have even left their stories in the wild for strangers to find, all in the name of flash-fiction celebration. We ask them to push themselves, write a story in one burst, squelching the desire to edit. We feature every story we receive and there is no limit to how many times a writer can contribute, the more the better.

Seeing what people do with the form has been wonderful for my writing, boosting my own creativity. People have written on scraps of paper and coffee shop napkins, in play parks and underground trains. The variety of submissions and experimentation has truly been wonderful to see. Flash-fiction is a delicate art. It takes a lot of discipline and effort but it does allow complete freedom for your imagination. There is nothing you can’t do in a flash fiction. That is why I love it.

Writing Flash-Fiction has warded off my writers block and my frustration. Above all though, it has made writing fun again. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to write next.

You can see all the stories to date for some inspiration and more information about the project on our blog over at http://nffdflashpoints.blogspot.co.uk

[And you can read all about Alex, and some of his stories, over on his own blog at http://alexthornber.wordpress.com/]

Submissions for the first NFFD Anthology closed last Tuesday and Valerie O'Riordan and myself have had a hard week reading through the 297 entries we received.


It's been a wonderful task, getting to read all your stories, but a hard one having to chose between them. Thank you to everyone who entered, we're so pleased you gave us such a difficult job!

Yesterday we finally managed to arrive at a Long List from which we will be choosing the final stories for the anthology. We managed to narrow it down to just under 90, and that has formed the list below.

Unfortunately, we now have to cut it still further to about half that number, which is going to be really tough, and probably cause us to argue and fall out!

This also means that some of you listed won't make it into the final selection, but we thought we would publish this list because we wanted you to know that even if you don't make it we really liked your story and it's only because of space that it's not going in!

We hope to finalising the list in the next couple of days, so watch out for more news, but now, without any more fanfare, here is the Long List:

Saved by Alex Josephy

Porcelain by Alex Thornber

Repetition by Amy Mackelden

Dare by Andrew Blackman

Endings by Angela Ramsell

Love by Benjamin Judge

Fiver by Bob Jacobs

Chemoids by Brian George

Arabesque by Brindley Hallam Dennis

Fun by Carly Holmes

Mauve by Carrie Etter

Waiting by Cathy White

Skyscraper by Charlotte Unsworth

Homeless by Colette Hill

Fat by Colin Watts

Peekaboo by Dan Powell

Cheese by David Gilbert

Threshold by David Hartley

Marmite by David Morgan

Burn by Denrele Ogunwa

Justice by Dorothy Evans

Retriever by Edward Price

Ciphers by Eli Goldstone

Recovery by Elizabeth Welsh

Courage by Emily Cleaver

Elephant by Erinna Mettler

Flight by Freya Morris

Manager by Gavin Inglis

Branch by Helen Ladderbird

Gum by Helen MacKinven

Thaw by Helen Pizzey

Bycatch by Holly Corfield-Carr

Rain by Isabel Rogers

Incoming by Jacky Taylor

Feathers by Jan Harris

Boy by Jay Barnett

Vertigo by Jayne Thickett

Jawbreakers by Jen Campbell

Potatoes by Jenny Adamthwaite

Blackhole by Jessica Patient

Cat-Cash by Joan Lennon

Calling by John Broken Willow

Watchdog by John Freebairn

Birdcage by Juliet Boyd

1800 by Katy Watson

Buttons by Kevlin Henney

Promotion by Kristian Jackson

Beauty by Kylie Grant

Superman by L.A. Craig

Rivals by Laura Wilkinson

Falling by Lorna Louise Hutchison

Procrastination by Maggie Storer

Skint by Mandy Taggart

Pink by Mark Sheerin

Wrapped by Martha Williams

Innocence by Michael Grafton

Cheesed by Michael Leonard

Whaler by Nasser Hussain

Ash by Natalie Bowers

Favourite by Nathan Good

Bar by Nicholas Murray

Troll by Nick Garrard

Tattoo by Nicola King

Misgivings by Norma Meechem

Crucifixion by Oscar Windsor-Smith

Freeman by Pauline Frisk

Rhubarb by Pauline Masurel

Kite by Peter Domican

Tarnished by Rachel Green

Space by Rhoda Thompson

Inked by Rin Simpson

Celia by Rosie Williams

Ed! by Rupan Malakin

Noose by Ryan Foster

Harps by Sal Page

Instructions by Sara Crowley

Unteachable by Sarah Schofield

Traditions by Shirley Golden

Zomband by Stephen Green

Crosswords by Stephen Partridge

Summertime by Susan Giles

Eyewitness by Susan Howe

Isolation by Susan Shipp

Shed by Susi Holliday

Valhalla by Tracy Fells

Misunderstanding by Vivien Jones

Here at National Flash-Fiction Day we're delighted to be taking part in the online launch of a book by some great writers: Nik Perring and Caroline Smailes. They have written a book of flash-fictions entitled Freaks and it's been wonderfully illustrated by Darren Craske.
The book is out today, available in both paper and ebook versions, so you should probably go and snag yourself a copy! If you need more convincing, here is a sample for you. Enjoy it and buy the book, it'll keep you busy until 16th May!

Invisible

[Super Power: The ability to make oneself unseen to the naked eye]

If I stay totally still,

if I stand right tall,

with me back against the school wall,

close to the science room’s window,

with me feet together,

pointing straight,

aiming forward,

if I make me hands into tight fists,

make me arms dead straight,

if I push me arms into me sides,

if I squeeze me thighs,

stop me wee,

if me belly doesn’t shake,

if me boobs don’t wobble,

if I close me eyes tight,

so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,

if I push me lips into me mouth,

if I make me teeth bite me lips together,

if I hardly breathe,

if I don’t say a word.

Then,

I’ll magic meself invisible,

and them lasses will leave me alone.

Dear All,

Well, is it just me, or is 16th May starting to look really close? Only 5 weeks to go!
And, with the day drawing closer, things are hotting up. We have lots of new events online since the last bulletin, plus more in the pipeline that will go up in the next weeks. Yesterday saw the close of submissions for our anthology which will be going to press very soon, and we have started to appear in the press and on the radio. It's all very, very exciting and I need to thank all of you for your hard work so far.
But it doesn't stop there! Here are some of the things going on and ways you can continue to help:
  • Yesterday, flash-fictioneer Deborah Rickard was interviewed on Radio Bristol about the day and what's going on in the area. ( you can listen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00qcf6l from about 1.53.30). If you are organising an event, taking part in an event, or just as excited as we are about the Day, why not drop your local station a line and go and tell the world?
  • The Guardian, on the 14th May, will be publishing an article by David Gaffney to promote the day. They will be listing our events. So, don't forget to let us know what's happening so we can add you to the list. (And if you don't have anything happening, there's still time to set something up!)
  • We have launched some new projects for the Day. There is the on-going project, Flashpoints ( http://nffdflashpoints.blogspot.co.uk/ ), which asks you to go to a place, write a story, and leave it there. And now we have unveiled plans for an International Write-In ( http://thewrite-in.blogspot.co.uk/ ) to happen on the Day itself. Please do get involved with these, and spread the word to all and sundry.
  • Along with this bulletin we have started to publish Guest Posts on our blog. We will be inviting a range of people to write for it, but if you have something you want to share, please drop us a line!
  • And finally, don't forget there are still competitions on-going with a range of deadlines. ( http://www.nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/competitions.html ) And we are pleased to announce that the top-three winners in all of the competitions will end up in a special e-book anthology published by NFFD.
And I think that's about it for now. We will be publishing this Bulletin weekly from now on, right up to the day (and beyond, maybe!) so stay tuned for more exciting happenings. And, if you have some news we need to share, drop us a line at nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com and we'll spread the word for you.
In the meantime, make sure you have liked our page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nationalflashfictionday) and that you follow us on Twitter (@nationalflashfd) and please spread the word to your friends and followers to do the same.
Thank, as ever, for your support with the day.
Until next time, happy flashing!
Calum Kerr
Director, National Flash-Fiction Day 2012

This message was originally sent out to our mailing list. To sign up, send us an email to nationalflashfictionday@gmail.com

Everything is a collective effort at Flashquake. We’ve got a great team working together to deliver the best content because our readers deserve just that. With that being said, we want to offer a collective response to what it is like to publish flash.

From Cindy Bell, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief:

We have a long tradition of publishing flash fiction, flash nonfiction, and short poetry including prose poetry. We've got a solid decade behind us, but aren't taking anything for granted. We strive to improve, to grow, and to offer our readers a quality publication. We're adding 10-minute plays, translations, multi-media, and reviews to the mix this year!

From Kellie Doherty, Editor and Segment Leader of Critique-A-Flash:

My experience with Flashquake has broadened my mind to what flash fiction is and how many writers love the style. As the segment leader of Critique-A-Flash, I am exposed to a wide variety of flashes each week. The quality ranges, of course, but, as long as they meet our requirements, I critique them, stating what could be changed or what I particularly liked. Writers, I believe, like the test of penning a flash. It challenges the very core of what a good story is truly about and, with my job, I feel like I'm helping those writers become better at what they love to do and allowing them to get the publication they rightly deserve. It's hard to write good flashes and the ones who try should be rewarded.

From Nichelle Seely, Editor:

Working with flash fiction has been an eye-opening experience. It's been an education to be on the editing side instead of the submission side. When faced with choosing four out of a hundred submissions, I can now appreciate how meaningful each nuance of care and style becomes. Amazing pieces pop out of the field with their originality of subject or beauty of language. At first I felt, 'who am I to judge,' and yet, that was my responsibility--it's humbling! And because Flashquake responds to every submitter with a brief critique, it reminds me that there's a human being with hopes and dreams on the other side of the story, someone who might be hurt or encouraged by whatever I have to say. I try hard to include something that works as well as the reason a story was rejected, because almost everything I've read has some merit. It usually takes me longer to compose my two sentence critique than the time it takes me to read the story.

Being an editor for Flashquake has improved my own writing. Flash fiction by nature must be laser-beam tight, and extraneous verbiage sticks out like a corn stalk in a pumpkin patch. My spidey-sense for needless words gets stronger every issue, and I now have a much better idea of what an actual paid editor must go through, and what they're looking for (or at least what puts them off!)

From David Bowles, Editor:

For me, flash fiction at its best is about the relationship between the author and the reader, the power of resonant writing to interact with a reader's own brain and create a story that is just hinted at on the page. This sort of intimacy is what many writers crave: a one-to-one collaboration with the audience from which powerful shared narratives arise. Finding pieces that accomplish this amazing feat is a joy for me, and sharing them with other word junkies is almost a responsibility.

From Elia Seely, Guest Editor:

I write flash fiction for the challenge of distilling a story down to its purest elements. I read this genre for the same reasons; that pure shot of "ahh" that comes from a perfectly measured portion of character, tone, setting, dialogue. Editing for an online magazine offers and immediacy of experience for both myself and the submitters; it feels good to be able to respond with some feedback right away. I love seeing people's imaginations at work, at it inspires me to get my own work out there.

--

Our Spring issue is now up in a new format we are proud of and excited to deliver to our readers. We also just opened up our submission period and will be accepting literary works of flash as well as art through May 20th.

At Flashquake, we have a theory: Words are meant to make an impact, to leave a trace, to enlighten and to inspire. We hope you’ll read along with us.

4

I’ve been entering flash fiction contests for a while now, and have just launched Flashbang, my first attempt at running a contest for others to enter. It’s made me think afresh about the value of contests, and how to describe flash fiction to those coming at the concept for the first time. I’m someone who took to flash like a fish to batter, and landed an impressive tome of rejections along the way, but I hope I’ve got useful things to say to those just setting out on the contest road.

I say I’ve been rejected many times and it’s true. I used to keep a spreadsheet of my entries and their fates, but it got too depressing looking at all the boxes coloured like Elastoplast (the colour I used for rejections). Still, my first big win – in anything – came with flash fiction. I wrote a 300 word story about Lizzie Borden which won the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize. Hard to imagine a better thrill than that, and for a long time afterwards I was hooked on entering flash contests. It’s fun to be on the other side of the fence now, watching the entries to Flashbang roll in and thinking of the buzz the writers will get when we announce the shortlist, and the winners.

But what if you’re not one of the winners? Well, I have more experience in that neck of the woods than in the winners’ enclosure, and I still think entering contests is a terrific way to get ahead as a writer. Why? Firstly and most importantly, it makes you write. We should be writing all the time, of course, but sometimes a competition is the kick in the pants that reminds us to get on with it.

Secondly, it makes you write something for someone else, which means we start thinking about the readers, or a specific reader – the judge. We check out what the judge likes, and we write towards that, rather than simply pleasing ourselves. Thirdly, contests get us writing to a deadline and a set word count. Again, important skills if we take our writing careers seriously.

Fourthly – okay, that sounds weird. My fourth point: it means we have to let go. Put our words out there, to be judged. This is a really tough part of writing, and I don’t think any author ever gets over how hard it is. As long as we’re in control, we can tell ourselves our stories are great. Fantastic even. But we won’t know for sure, until we send them out into the world of Other Readers. It’s scary, but it’s a vital part of writing. Letting go frees us up to start something new.

Five? You might win! Or make the shortlist. Or the long list. Each of these is a milestone which should be celebrated. Even – and here’s a bruiser – being rejected. Knock-backs come with the territory and the sooner we can start accepting them, the better. Suck in the honey, spit out the bees, as someone said to me recently. Or, as Peter O’Toole says in Lawrence of Arabia: ‘Of course it hurts. The trick is not minding that it hurts.’ In many ways, failure is your friend. I blogged a bit on that theme, here.

I’d encourage everyone to enter Flashbang. It’s free (which is increasingly rare these days) and the judges have provided brilliant hints as to what they’re after in the winning entries, which include some great definitions of flash fiction. Don’t be put off if you’re not a crime writer; perhaps the very best thing about flash is how many hats you can try on. I’ve written horror flashes, comic flashes, and literary flashes. You don’t need to be an expert in the genre to write 150 words – and you may discover a talent you didn’t know you had. So give it your best shot (pun intended) and I look forward to reading your entries.

More info

Visit http://flashbangcontest.wordpress.com/ for full details, and follow @FlashbangGang on Twitter for latest news.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine last weekend. He’s a DJ, a drum and bass one to be precise and we were discussing what we look for in stories, and in music. I should clarify, for the record, that I don’t much like drum and bass, or most dance music. He asked me what I first listened to when I listen to music, when that song first comes on, what is it that first grips you, that makes you want to listen more. I thought about it for a moment, and I told him it was the words. The lyrics of a song. That’s what I listen out for. And so I asked him, when you do the same, what is it you first listen out for? He said he didn’t much go for the lyrics, to him the words are just another instrument and he wants to hear all those instruments used intelligently. He wants creativity in everything to do with music.

I bring this up because I have been thinking a lot over the past week about myself as a writer. When I pick up a book and dismiss it after reading the first chapter because it’s badly written, because the plot doesn’t work – am I doing the same thing? Am I looking for works that use everything creatively, intelligently? Has writing, in fact, ruined my love of books to an extent? I can enjoy music because to me, the songs I like have great lyrics. I don’t care about the guitar or piano or whatever. But with stories, for me at least, they’ve got to get it all right.

I picked up Jon McGregor’s wonderful short story collection, ‘This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to someone like you’ the other week and the opening story, ‘That Colour’ happens to fall under the word count of a flash fiction. To me, that story is a work of genius. Go on, go out and buy it, give that tale a read and tell me it isn’t the best piece of work by a writer so far this year. It’s incredible and more so, it’s less than a thousand words long.

I suppose that’s what I like about Flash Fiction. Maybe like isn’t the right word, respect is probably better. When they’re done well, they manage to do everything well, plot, character, imagery; they can make you laugh, cry and all within a tiny word count.

We’ll be celebrating National Flash Fiction day in Manchester all day, with incredible performances from Flash Tag, and an evening event that might even feature your work. So go on, you’ve got two days left to send us a story. Impress us!


http://badlanguagemcr.wordpress.com/competition/

National Flash-Fiction Day is rolling down the tracks, coming closer and closer. But before it gets here we have a host of deadlines for competitions and anthologies. So, I thought I would give you a list of the dates so you don't miss any of them.

Full details of all of these can be found on our website at http://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/competitions.html.

Saturday 31st March
Flash-Fiction South West - Anthology (West Country writers only)

Sunday 1st April
Bad Language - flash-fiction competition (All of UK)

Tuesday 10th April
National Flash-Fiction Day Anthology (All of UK)

Friday 13th April
Abergavenny Focus / The Word Counts - Flash-Fiction Competition (All of UK)

Sunday 15th April (11pm)
Derby Telegraph Flash Fiction Competition (Derbyshire writers only)

Sunday 15th April
Flashbang - Crime-flash Competition (International)

Friday 20th April
Lancashire Writing Hub's Flash-Fiction Competition (All of UK)

Monday 30th April (5pm)
Flash-Fiction at the end of the world! - Flash-Fiction Competition (All of UK)

Monday 30th April
1000 words (International)

Tuesday 1st May
'Flash a Famous Phrase' Competition - from Flash Fiction World (All of UK)

Date to be Confirmed
Once Upon a Time Writing Contest (International)

And, we have an open project with no particular deadline:

Flashpoints
http://nffdflashpoints.blogspot.co.uk/

So, sharpen your pens, brush off your keyboards, and get your work in while you still can.
Good luck to you all!

10

Flash fiction it's all the rage now. It's short, it's snappy, it's intense, it's bitesized. It's a short piece of fiction that ranges from the single word to a roundabout 1000 words at a stretch. It's as direct as poetry but without the same abstraction. It makes words work extra hard through attention to juxtaposition, erudition, etymology, sound and tempo. Flash fiction requires skill and wit, it requires a writer with nerves of steel, and a sharp steely scalpel that cuts out everything that distracts or is not necessary. It's a shot, instead of a pint. It's a story without the subplots, it's character as plot. It's story boiled down to it's essence: Character, motivation, action, epiphany (or you could be really clever and try a characterless epiphany or make the reader the character – anything to save words).

Have I convinced you yet? Is flash fiction really something different? Something that should be recognised it's own right?

Here in Ireland the recognition of flash fiction is definitely on the rise. After an Irish Times article (in which some of my views were quoted) the Irish Times proceeded to publish a flash fiction piece every day in it's newspaper. In an era when fiction is being edged out of many publications this is a terrific boon. In addition the lauded Irish national radio's arts programme RTE's Arena is now holding a flash fiction competition and both the Fish and Bridport Prizes have added flash fiction to their competition categories.

My own experience of finding flash fiction was through the Twitter community and hashtag #fridayflash. Here I found a place where I could create and read small pieces of fiction that, at it's most effective told a complete story and set of cerebral sparks. Many of these stories are being collated in Flashes of Sadness and Light where many of the characters appear again and again in each others stories.

We live in an age when everything and everyone is a story. We invent ourselves through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, we look the extremes of the human condition through reality TV. We have round the clock news delivering pathos, action, outrage, rhetoric, conflict all in a moment.

Flash fiction is quick, it hits hard like the headlines. Flash has to find the hook fast, it needs to speak to us to reflect or expand our experience or it loses the reader. The beauty of flash and the crux of why it is important is that while it is short, quick, intense, accessible, bite-sized for the Smartphone it is made of words and can give us the best of what fiction can give.

And what can fiction give us? - Reflection, resonance, depth, pause, perspective. Through the eyes of authors, through their choices we can experience news ways of looking at the world, new understanding or just be plain old entertained.

When you look back at a book you enjoyed, or a film or piece of music, there is often a key scene or in music a lyric or a theme that sticks in your head and sums everything up and that is the power of flash fiction, it can be that killer moment, that set of notes that twists the knife in your gut, it is the shady bit in the middle of a Venn diagram that says everything that needs to be said: confluence, convergence, coincidence, consequence.

Do you remember a look years on? Where you were standing when you heard the news? That's flash.

As a writer, writing flash has given me: the opportunity to experiment, the discipline of chiselling a piece down to its fundamental elements, the joy (as a psychology graduate) of making character itself tell the story. It also has provided the parameter for me to ask myself over and over again, what really matters in the story? What creates an effect and what makes a difference?

Reading, most recently David Gaffney's very short pieces (or micro fiction) as he likes to call them in his collection Sawn Off Tales what has struck me is that these flash fictions have the impact of stand up comedy gags. We have the anticipation, the initial idea planted in our heads as to where the story or the gag might be going, then the exposition, the story, the thing that happened and finally, the resolution – or maybe not – both in comedy and in flash fiction the power is sometimes in the not saying, in the juxtaposition of ideas or occurrences that sets off a trigger in the mind of the reader. So flash fiction will be, (and perhaps even more so than other fictions) a collaboration between reader and writer, a conspiracy or collusion of understanding, shared conventions understood and then exploded.

While some commentators are still not sure that flash fiction is more than a writing exercise, I am firmly convinced that it taps into our human desire for anecdote and wit, it requires quick thinking, many connections firing at once. In this modern age of multitasking and parallel processing of all kinds of media, flash fiction, in my opinion, is something that is smart, quick and effective but also something that will endure as a way of making sense of the world and a fantastic way to enjoy and experience that sense making.