Friday, February 18, 2011

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the FieldI think flash fiction is fun reading. I adore novels, dislike short stories, but flash is sharp, tight, slap-me-in-the-face savvy. So when Tara L. Masih contacted me about her book, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, I said I'd take a look at it, and see what I thought.

This book is worthy of a collegiate classroom, my friend. If you have any inclination toward writing flash, read this. Published by Rose Metal Press, Writing Flash Fiction is edited by Tara L. Masih, also author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows, an award winning collection of her work. She's received glowing commendations by USA Book News,, San Francisco Book Review, and more.

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction has won its own list of commendations.
  • A 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year
  • #3 on Small Press Distributions' 2010 bestseller list
  • A New & Noteworthy Book, May 2009
  • A recommended nonfiction book, Poets & Writers' Summer 2009 reading list
  • An Top-100 literary reference book
  • A Fiction Writers Review Favorite Anthology for 2009
The collection features essasys on flash fiction from: Steve Almond • Rusty Barnes • Randall Brown • Mark Budman • Stace Budzko • Robert Olen Butler • Ron Carlson • Pamelyn Casto • Kim Chinquee • Stuart Dybek • Pia Z. Ehrhardt • Sherrie Flick • Vanessa Gebbie • Tom Hazuka • Nathan Leslie • Michael Martone • Julio Ortega • Pamela Painter • Jayne Anne Phillips • Jennifer Pieroni • Shouhua Qi • Bruce Holland Rogers • Robert Shapard • Deb Olin Unferth • Lex Williford.

For example, Sherrie Flick speaks of her obstacles in "Flash in a Pan, Writing Outside of Time's Boundaries". She recalls butting heads with her college professor about tiny stories being legitimate. He held up her piece by a corner, as if dirty, and announced to the class "This is not a story." For years such short works were called prose poems. Then Sherrie goes on to talk about what she loves about flash, one main point being the ability to forget plot, abandon time lines, and write liberally.

Steve Almond writes the chapter entitled "Getting the Lead Out, How Writing Really Bad Poetry Yields Really Better Short Stories." Took him a couple of years to come to his conclusion, but you'll love his exercise and example in his chapter. He tells you to turn a project into a poem. Once done with it, remove the line breaks and see what type of prose you have. Amazingly with little effort, you have a cool piece of flash.

Each chapter has a flash fiction exercise, and because flash is so short, each chapter has an example to drive home the point. If you've ever written flash, read flash or just thought about what flash fiction really is, pick up this book. It's tight, exciting, and instantly gratifying in that you'll reach the end and feel a thousand percent more qualified to write some fantastic flash.


BECKY said...

Thanks for this, Hope. I love flash fiction, too, especially since I don't consider myself a fiction writer. But give me an opportunity to write flash, and I'm there!

Laura M. Campbell said...

I've never experimented with flash fiction, but I hear about it all the time. I find books with exercises as well as advice are really helpful. Thanks! I'll be sure to check it out.

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the info about this book. May have to check it out.