Flash fiction is good for writers. Many best-selling authors such as David Foster Wallace, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, and John Updike have, in recent years, produced fiction in this format. But writers have always embraced the short-short story form. Writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and Anton Chekhov have all written flash fiction.
Many other authors such as Robert Olen Butler and Bruce Holland Rogers are exploring and stretching the boundaries of the format.
So why should you write flash fiction?
Low risk, little time investment
If you spend two years of your life writing the Great American Novel that sucks, well, you wasted two years of your life.
Flash fiction is low-risk. If you write a terrible flash fiction story, you might have invested a few hours in it. You can move on to the next story and try again.
It does not involve as much of a commitment as writing a lengthy short story or a novel does. It provides instant gratification. In less than a day, you can have a completed (and possibly publishable) story to show for your efforts.
Great way to improve your writing skills
Writing flash fiction makes you aware of every word you choose. You learn to write well using as few words as possible. In flash fiction, you need to know the elements of good fiction and how they work together.
It is far easier to write a long story, wasting words, wandering off on tangents, introducing interesting characters that have nothing to do with the main story. But flash fiction is coiled like a spring. There is no wasted energy in flash fiction. Every word in the story is significant and drives you toward the climactic conclusion.
You probably won’t get rich writing flash fiction, but you may gain some recognition and respect from well-written stories. But most of all, writing flash fiction is fun. My students are always amazed at what they produce during a flash fiction writing session. They can’t believe that their imaginations can create such beautiful works in such a short time.