Build Your English Vocabulary in a Flash with Flash Fiction

Do you relish intriguing stories that stir your imagination? Do you find you don’t have time for that long novel because days or weeks go by before you return to its pages again.

If the answer to either of those questions is "yes", then you’re the perfect candidate for flash fiction, an even shorter version of short stories. We dealt earlier with building your English language skills with short stories. Now, we’re going a step further and discussing this even shorter form, which means you will always have time to read a story.

Flash fiction also goes by names such as microfiction, postcard fiction, and short short stories.  Typically flash fiction is a short story of less than 1,000 words. In fact coming across a flash fiction story of 300 to 500 words is not uncommon. Some flash fiction publishers look for stories of 500 words or less. So, flash fiction doesn’t have time to dilly dally; it gets to the heart of a story fast, then before you know it, it’s over.

You can read multiple flash fiction stories over a lunch hour.  And of course, you can also write one quickly as well. However, remember that writing one that truly tells a story and makes sense is easier said than done. It takes a lot of thought to put together a compelling flash fiction story.

In this always-on-the-go 21st century, flash fiction is great for keeping people reading and writing as well. It demands no great time commitment as do other forms of entertainment, and it certainly gets one thinking, as you ponder words and phrases and the events that make up a story. It’s also an excellent antidote -when done well – to some of the inferior mind-numbing programming on TV these days.

Flash fiction, like short stories, novels, and magazine and newspaper articles, keep people engaged with the written word. These ultra short stories do have a main plot, but there are no sub-plots. They simply don’t have the time to develop multiple plots. However, they do have a story to tell.

If you want to try your hand at writing a flash fiction story, consider these tips:

1. Choose a Specific Moment in Time Concerning Your Character’s Life

You really shouldn’t tell your character’s life story in flash fiction. You can do that in a novel, and go into significant detail. With flash fiction you highlight a moment or an event in a character’s life. For example, you may highlight a chance encounter with an old flame on a train station platform, and what results from this meeting.

2. Get Right into the Story

Start in the middle of some action or poignant circumstance. A man walks into a food store in the middle of a hold-up. A man and a woman have an intense argument at their table in a restaurant. There’s no need to show the man driving to the food store, or the couple checking in their coats at the restaurant entrance.

3. Don’t tell Your Audience Everything

Let them do some thinking and fill in the blanks. On the other hand, don’t be so vague that they don’t have enough information from you to fill in those blanks.

4. Know Your Beginning, Middle, and End Precisely

This will guide your short piece and keep you focused. Flash fiction is tight, concise writing, and every word counts, as in poetry. Know your story and get writing - based on the age-old structure of a good beginning, a middle that develops the story, and a satisfying ending. Take out any words that are unnecessary and that do not add value to your story.

5. Have an Ending that’s a Surprise, While Still Being Believable

Flash fiction is a short, powerful literary form. Let your story ending adhere to this principle. Let your ending surprise your reader, while at the same time causing them to think, “That’s a satisfying ending that makes sense. “ Don’t have a formula ending like many Hollywood movies do – endings one can see coming long before the movie ends.


When it comes to reading flash fiction, there are a plethora of places online to check out stories. Read an assortment of writers in diverse genres, including literary writing. Read flash fiction from writers from other countries.

This variety will help you learn English words and phrases you may be unfamiliar with. Make note of unique words and phrases and look up their meanings. Apply this meaning to the story context to help you understand the story better. With flash fiction, it’s quite easy to browse the web and come across many different places that publish this compressed form of storytelling.

Take a half dozen stories and sit, relax and enjoy (in one sitting) the different authors and their way of looking at the world. You will find that flash fiction can renew your interest in reading. You begin to make time for these sessions and look forward to them.

In addition, you may find these stories spur your imagination. Before you know it you’re tapping away on your keyboard or have pen in hand. You’re ready to create your own flash fiction for others to enjoy.