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What is Flash Fiction? A Brief Guide and 42 Prompts

What is flash fiction? Think of it this way: it’s like a short story, but it’s actually an even shorter story

Flash Fiction Writing Prompts

Flash fiction is unique in its brevity—and though there is no official word count that separates it from other short forms of literature, the briefest of works are typically classed as flash fiction. A few of the most popular forms include:

  • The Six-Word Story: a story told in just six words (the most famous example of this format, said to be written by Ernest Hemingway, is a tragically brief one-line story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”)
  • Twitterature: a story told in 280 characters or less
  • Dribble: a story of 50 words or less (also sometimes called a minisaga)
  • Drabble: a story of 100 words or less (also sometimes called microfiction)
  • Sudden Fiction: a story of no more than 750 words
  • Flash Fiction: a story comprised of about 1,000-1,500 words

Flash fiction should always stand on its own and act as a complete story rather than a vignette or scene. However, flash fiction is also unique in that it sometimes only tells the sparsest version of a story—merely hinting at something that is clearly much more layered and complex. Though it may appear deceptively simple, crafting an effective piece of flash fiction is actually quite challenging, as each word and sentence must serve the purpose of propelling the story forward.

42 Flash Fiction Prompts for Writers of All Ages

Have a better understanding of what flash fiction is? If you’re ready to try your hand at this creative art form, use our list of 42 flash fiction prompts to get started!

  1. Write a six-word story about a memory that is fundamental to a character.
  2. Write a six-word story about someone going through a hard time.
  3. Write a six-word story about friendship.
  4. Write a six-word story about the best feeling a person could have.
  5. Write a six-word story about childhood.
  6. Write a six-word story about someone injuring themself.
  7. Write a six-word story about someone winning something important to them.
  8. Write a piece of twitterature about an actress trying out for a role.
  9. Write a piece of twitterature from the point of view of a cat.
  10. Write a piece of twitterature with a surprise ending about a mundane everyday object.
  11. Write a piece of twitterature about what a character who works as a chef might have done yesterday.
  12. Write a piece of twitterature about two people having an argument.
  13. Write a piece of twitterature about something humorous and unexpected.
  14. Write a piece of twitterature about your favorite thing in the world.
  15. Write a dribble about a dream you once had.
  16. Write a dribble about someone giving a speech.
  17. Write a dribble about a storm.
  18. Write a dribble about two people reuniting after many years.
  19. Write a dribble about a football game.
  20. Write a dribble about a young boy with a dream.
  21. Write a dribble about someone who is almost out of time.
  22. Write a drabble about a color.
    Flash Fiction Prompts and Writing Ideas
  23. Write a drabble about a child’s first day of school.
  24. Write a drabble about an old man reflecting on something that happened to him.
  25. Write a drabble that is only made up of dialogue.
  26. Write a drabble about a broken lamp.
  27. Write a drabble about an argument a character is having with their parents.
  28. Write a drabble about a teenage girl who is facing a big challenge.
  29. Write a piece of sudden fiction about a transformation.
  30. Write a piece of sudden fiction about a missing item.
  31. Write a piece of sudden fiction about the revelation of a major secret.
  32. Write a piece of sudden fiction that is set in a library.
  33. Write a piece of sudden fiction about a beach.
  34. Write a piece of sudden fiction about someone who gets lost in an area they aren’t familiar with.
  35. Write a piece of sudden fiction about someone who gets their dream job and immediately regrets it.
  36. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction that examines one character during three events in his or her life.
  37. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about someone who is nervous about taking a trip.
  38. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about a surprise that no one saw coming.
  39. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about the power going out.
  40. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about a week that changes everything.
  41. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about someone who is living a lie.
  42. Write a 1,000-1,500 word piece of flash fiction about a character who is visiting another country.

What is Flash Fiction? 5 Tips to Make the Most of Every Word

Because flash fiction offers such little space, each word needs to make an impact. Use these five tips alongside the flash fiction prompts above to craft your own very short stories that will engage readers from the start.

1. Keep the Story Moving Forward

Flash fiction is all about momentum: while typical writing may meander through a landscape or linger on a character description, flash fiction needs to keep things moving ahead. You’ll certainly still need aspects like character and plot, but don’t get too hung up in details that exist only for the sake of detail. Everything you choose to reveal should have relevance to the story itself.

2. Make Sure There’s a Plot

The abbreviated structure of flash fiction can be confusing for many writers, and they end up writing vignettes and scenes instead. However, what sets flash fiction apart is that at its core, it is still a story with a plot. Create tension and make sure there is a conclusion.

3. Focus on the Essential

Since you don’t have much room to work with, be sure to stay focused on what truly matters! Most flash fiction writers stick to no more than one or two characters—and they will often keep the story constrained within a single scene or setting.

4. Create Vivid Images

Flash fiction is often most successful when it includes striking, vivid images. You’ll hook readers best by giving them something they can really see in their minds. Strive to have a clear, powerful voice in your writing and choose meaningful details to craft the layers of your work.

5. Be Surprising

Although you don’t need a big twist ending to write a successful piece of flash fiction, just a little bit of the unexpected can go a long way. A surprising reveal or an ending that subverts expectations is something of a hallmark of the genre. Most importantly, it’s an effective way to be sure that you’ve taken your reader on a journey with your work.

We hope this guide has helped you develop a better understanding of what flash fiction is…and that you’ll use our flash fiction prompts to create your own concise works of art!

Until next time, journal on…

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Flash Fiction Writing Ideas for All Ages
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