Flash! Writing the very short story

John Dufresne

Book - 2018

"The history of fiction has been dominated by the novel and the short story. But now a brave new genre has emerged: very brief fiction. FLASH! identifies the qualities that make for excellent flash fiction, demystifies the writing process, and guides writers by exercise and example through the world of the very short story."--From back cover.

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New York : W. W. Norton & Company [2018]
Main Author
John Dufresne (author)
First edition
Item Description
Includes complete examples of very short fiction by more than thirty authors.
Physical Description
xiv, 255 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
  • The Intro
  • Briefly
  • Stories, Short Stories, and Very Short Stories
  • The Lure of Stories
  • Points of View
  • The Qualities of a Good Short-Short Story
  • Writing a Short Story; Writing a Very Short Story
  • A Formal Feeling Comes
  • The Art of the Glimpse
  • Long and Short
  • The Way of All Flash
  • The Outro
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors
  • Story Credits and Permissions
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Dufresne (I Don't Like Where This Is Going) has authored eight novels and two previous writing guides, and that background comes through in this assured and canny guide to writing very short stories. His discussions of plot, setting, characterization, and other areas are sometimes straightforwardly informative, while at other times they read like stories in their own right. A particularly valuable ingredient of his advice is the inclusion of detailed, encouraging, and relatively unique writing prompts for those interested in creating flash fiction, such as a prompt for sci-fi writers to "make it 451 words in honor of Ray Bradbury." These prompts are supplemented by well-chosen quotations and full samples of works by other authors, such as Merle Drown's single-sentence flash-fiction piece "Suffused with Pleasure": "She bit him, quick, sharp, precisely, and before he knew it, he said, 'I love you.'" Dufresne's axioms about fiction compositions tend to the assertive and are generally insightful, but sometimes arguable-"We aren't inspired to write. We write and then we are inspired," for example. Nonetheless, for established and aspiring authors alike, as well as for readers simply interested in better understanding the writing process in digest form, this book will be illuminating, instructive, and, yes, inspiring. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Flash fiction is like the Twitter of the literary world. This compressed form of storytelling, usually 2,000 words or less, depends on careful word choice and a condensed plot with only essential but compelling information. Here, Dufresne (English, Florida International Univ.; Is Life Like This?) offers an insightful guide to writing this increasingly popular form of fiction. He provides a brief overview of storytelling and the elements of what makes a good story before delving into the craft of flash fiction. The author explains that every word and scene is critical, as are the point of view, theme, and literary devices. Whereas novelists have the luxury of incorporating detailed descriptions into intricately built plots, flash fiction writers have to introduce the characters and advance the story within a constrained framework; what is left out of the work becomes as important as what remains. VERDICT Along with Strunk and White's classic The Elements of Style, this guide to flash fiction is a must-read for aspiring writers and students in both creative fiction and nonfiction writing programs.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A how-to guide to writing flash fiction.Dufresne (MFA/Florida International Univ.; I Don't Like Where This Is Going, 2016, etc.) has written many novels and stories and a number of books about writing. Here, he focuses on writing a specific kind of fiction: flash fiction, aka micro, mini, short-short, pocket-size, etc. The author describes it as "narrative (or it's not) that is distilled and refined, concentrated, layered, coherent, textured, stimulating, and resonant, and it may prove to be the ideal form of fiction foran age of shrinking attention spans and busy and distracted lives." His ambitious goal is to demystify the writing process and discuss the craft of storytelling. He provides many samples of flash fiction, including graphic ones, by a wide array of writers (these make up most of the book), with some sharp critical analysis, prompts, and exercises along the way, all in a little over 200 pages. Scattered throughout are epigraphs, also short"style is the difference between a circle and the way you draw it" (Pablo Picasso)to inspire would-be word flashers and MFA students looking to get in on the mini- bandwagon. Dufresne provides minilectures on myths, stories in general, short storieswhat William Trevor described as "an explosion of truth"and very short stories, which aren't new (Dufresne references Borges' Ficciones and Kafka's Parables and Paradoxes). The author is not afraid to cite those who are prescriptive in their definitionse.g., in The Fiction Dictionary, Laurie Henry writes that a short-short is a "complete story of 1,500 words max and around 250 words minimum." Some of the other cited authors include Steve Almond, Denise Duhamel, Lee Martin, and Debra Monroe.Not the place to learn about the short story genre itself but a good place to learn how to write some really, really short ones. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.