My Love Affair with Flash Fiction
When I first stumbled upon the Flash Fiction form a couple of years ago, I was overjoyed because I didn’t feel like I had time for writing novels, but I loved writing fiction. This form, along with the Vignette, suits my needs as a fiction writer to the tee. I can write a flash in as short as forty-five minutes for a nice rough-cut bit of fiction chew, or I can spend 2-3 days polishing a very refined jewel of piece, if I like. I can suggest a much larger story in the reader’s imagination with very few words. And, I can read fellow flashers’ works in minutes. I love to read flash as much as I love to write it.
The form has captured my imagination. It fits so well with our bite-sized entertainment consumerism. Flash should be to fiction as the the viral video (platform = youtube) has become for film/video and the mp3/mp4 (platform = iTunes) has become for music. Should.
Starting a Flash Wildfire
According to a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts study, 119 million Americans regularly read literature….mostly novels. So why not Flash? Remember Reader’s Digest? All-pervasive champion of short forms? There was a day when every waiting room in the country had Reader’s Digest. Flash and micro-fiction should be the easiest form of literature in the world to distribute because of it’s size, but most people have no clue of its existence.
Email subscription, social networking, e-readers, and RSS feeds are the obvious fit for distribution now, but people need a stronger introduction. It needs to be out in the world, in people’s faces, in people’s hands. It’s too easy to ignore emails, tweets, fb posts, etc.
- Sell Starbucks on printing micro-fiction on their paper cups. Shoot, turn that paper waste into a collectible (like a latte fiction happy meal toy).
- Include flash fiction at the beginning of novels just like cartoons used to be shown at the beginning of movies.
- Speaking of movies, why not throw in a micro-fiction slide at the theater while people are waiting for the previews to start?
- Heard of Napkin Fiction? Why shouldn’t your favorite local pub serve up some flash with your cocktail (and don’t forget to print your flash blog url)?
- Why couldn’t multimedia flash hit the big time on youtube and iTunes? I’m seeing interesting possibilities and experiments out there with original illustration (or animation), music, and narrated flash.
- Hey, people love fortune cookies…how about fiction cookies?
I could easily go on, but I’ll leave that to you. The point I’m trying to make is that if 119 million Americans (in 2009) enjoyed reading fiction, then it’s our job to make Flash Fiction visible and consumable to every one of them (and the rest of the reading world). But once the world develops a taste for it, we need to take a look at our distribution model.
Ok, so let’s go a little overboard – Centralized Distribution Model
Remember how we used to share and consume videos? Remember emailing videos to everyone in your yahoo contacts? Before a centralized platform like youtube? That’s kind of where we are with Flash Fiction. Our distribution model is…well…distributed. If it really takes off (think hundreds of millions of consumers, like the novel), then it’s time for centralized distribution…that place where everyone goes to get the hottest flash in a format that is highly consumable. What will it be? An iPhone App? Subscriptions for you Kindle? A website like youtube? An application like iTunes? Or just plain old paper products? Or something new entirely?
Or…there’s always the disheartening possibility that people will just get video chips put in their brains and never pick up a piece a fiction gain.