In a fast-paced modern world, the ancient art of ultra-short stories is growing in popularity under the new banner of “Flash Fiction”.
Dunedin writer Iona Winter has specialised in Flash Fiction for the past 10 years, and says it has a freedom conventional novel writing does not allow.
The title of Flash Fiction refers to “really short stories”, up to a maximum of 1000 words, which can be written in prose, poetry, or a combination of both. Most stories average about 300 words.
“Flash Fiction is perfect for writers who work a ‘day job’, as a story can be focused on for a period of time, sculpted, edited and completed,” Winter said.
“It also requires the reader to pay attention to the intimacy of the characters’ lives from the very first word.”
Flash Fiction writers became skilled at putting “just what matters most” on the page.
“Every word counts,” she said.
Over the years, Winter has had about 30 Flash Fiction stories published in New Zealand and internationally, and she is working on a Novella-in-Flash.
She also recently embarked on a PhD in creative writing through Massey University.
“What I like most about Flash is that it is really punchy – it gets right to the heart of the matter.”
The concept of ultra-short fiction dates back as far as the 14th century, to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and 19th-century writer Edgar Allan Poe chose to use short prose in his work.
Each year, a Flash Fiction writing competition is held between February and April, where writers are invited to submit a story of up to 300 words.
The entries will be judged and the winners revealed on National Flash Fiction Day, June 22, at an event to be held at Dunedin Public Library, from 6pm.
As the Dunedin chairwoman for National Flash Fiction Day, Winter is looking forward to sharing the winning stories with the public.