|History and lists|
Flash fiction is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories, also known as twitterature, the dribble (50 words), the drabble (100 words), and sudden fiction (750 words). Some commentators have also suggested that some flash fiction possesses a unique literary quality, e.g. the ability to hint at or imply a larger story.
Flash fiction has roots going back to prehistory, recorded at origin of writing, including fables and parables, notably Aesop's Fables in the west, and Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India. Later examples include the tales of Nasreddin, and Zen koans such as The Gateless Gate.
In the 1920s flash fiction, was referred to as the "short short story" and was associated with Cosmopolitan magazine; and in the 1930s, collected in anthologies such as The American Short Short Story.
William Somerset Maugham was a notable proponent, with his Cosmopolitans: Very Short Stories (1936) being an early collection.
Practitioners have included Saadi of Shiraz ("Gulistan of Sa'di"), Bolesław Prus, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Yasunari Kawabata, Ernest Hemingway, Julio Cortázar, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Fredric Brown, John Cage, Philip K. Dick and Robert Sheckley.
Hemingway also wrote 18 pieces of flash fiction for that were included in his first short-story collection, In Our Time. It is disputed whether (to win a bet), as alleged, he also wrote the flash fiction "For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn".
Also notable are the 62 "short-shorts" which comprise Severance, the thematic collection by Robert Olen Butler in which each story describes the remaining 90 seconds of conscious awareness within human heads which have been decapitated.
English speaking writers well known for their published flash fiction include Lydia Davis, David Gaffney and Robert Scotellaro and online include Sherrie Flick, Bruce Holland Rogers, Steve Almond, Barbara Henning, Grant Faulkner, and Nancy Stohlman.
Spanish-speaking literature has many authors of microstories, including Augusto Monterroso ("El dinosaurio") and Luis Felipe Lomelí ("El Emigrante"). Their microstories are some of the shortest ever written in that language. In Spain, authors of microrrelatos (very short fictions) have included Andrés Neuman, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, José Jiménez Lozano, Javier Tomeo, José María Merino, Juan José Millás, and Óscar Esquivias. In Argentina, notable contemporary contributors to the genre have included Marco Denevi, Luisa Valenzuela, and Ana María Shua.
The Italian writer Italo Calvino consciously searched for a short narrative form, drawing inspiration from Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares and finding that Monterroso's was "the most perfect he could find"; "El dinosaurio", in turn, possibly inspired his "The Dinosaurs".
German-language authors of Kürzestgeschichten, influenced by brief narratives penned by Bertolt Brecht and Franz Kafka, have included Peter Bichsel, Heimito von Doderer, Günter Kunert, and Helmut Heißenbüttel.
The Arabic-speaking world has produced a number of micro-story authors, including the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz, whose book Echoes of an Autobiography is composed mainly of such stories. Other flash fiction writers in Arabic include Zakaria Tamer, Haidar Haidar, and Laila al-Othman.
In the Russian-speaking world the best known flash fiction author is Linor Goralik.
Access to the Internet has enhanced an awareness of flash fiction, with online journals being devoted entirely to the style. SmokeLong Quarterly, founded by Dave Clapper in 2003, is "dedicated to bringing the best flash fiction to the web ... whether written by widely published authors or those new to the craft." Other online flash fiction journals include wigleaf, NANO Fiction (also print), Flash Fiction Online and Flash Fiction Magazine.
Author Paulo Coelho remarked that the "democratization of communication offered by the Internet has made positive in-roads" and directly influenced the style's popularity. The form is popular, with most online literary journals now publishing flash fiction.
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- Graham (March 8, 2013). "Flash fiction - all you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask...". The Bridport Prize.
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- Becky Tuch. "Flash Fiction: What's It All About?". The Review Review.
- Ashley Chantler. "Why Flash Fiction? Because of a Parrot and a Porn Star, Of Course". Smokelong Quarterly.
- Swartwood, Robert, "Hint Fiction", (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011)
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- Christopher Kasparek, "Two Micro-Stories by Bolesław Prus," The Polish Review, 1995, no. 1, pp. 99-103.
- Zygmunt Szweykowski, Twórczość Bolesława Prusa, p. 99.
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- Irène Langlet, "Les Echelles de bâti de la science-fiction", in Revue française de Fixxion contemporaine - Critical Review of Contemporary Franch Fixxion, n° 1, Micro/Macro, 2011 and Cristina Alvarez, "Nouveaux genres littéraires urbains - les nouvelles en trois lignes contemporaines au sein des micronouvelles," in Atas do Simpósio Internacional : Microcontos e outras microformas, Minho (Portugal), ISBN 978-972-8063-65-8
- Bente Lucht (November 17, 2014). "Flash Fiction: Literary fast food or a metamodern (sub)genre with potential?". Human And Social Sciences at the Common Conference.
- Becky Tuch. "Flash Fiction: A List of Resources". The Review Review.
- Hart, Melissa (March 2016). "Smoke Break: Guest Editors Choose Flash Fiction for Online Mag". The Writer (Retrieved 2016-02-11).
- Pratt, Mary K. (2009-05-05). "How Technology Is Changing What We Read". PCWorld. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- "Six of the best: CNN readers tell us their stories". Cnn.com. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- Christopher Kasparek, "Two Micro-Stories by Bolesław Prus," The Polish Review, 1995, no. 1, pp. 99–103.
- Zygmunt Szweykowski, Twórczość Bolesława Prusa (The Art of Bolesław Prus), 2nd ed., Warsaw, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1972.
- The dictionary definition of flash fiction at Wiktionary