5 Steps to Flash Fiction #amwriting

Every so often, I do a post on writing flash fiction. So here’s one.

  1. Get a core: a prompt, a character, a word, a thought, a genre.
  2. Attach two characters to it.
  3. Think of a conflict involving those characters and the core.
  4. Choose a point of view.
  5. Decide what happens after the conflict is resolved.

Now, depending on how long you want your piece to be, you can write just the conflict, or you can include some background and include the resolution.


I’m watching a fire in the fireplace. So let’s have my core be fireplace.

Let’s have two men in a cabin heated by wood. One of them is scared and one of them isn’t. The conflict is one of them wants to stay in the cabin and one wants to leave. The scared one tells the story. One leaves and one doesn’t.

Two versions of Flash Fiction

Warming His Bones

I’m shivering.

When I complained, Mike said, “Shut up and wrap one of those quilts around you.”

“They probly got bugs in them. We’ll freeze here. We gotta light a fire or get out.”

“And the cops see smoke and then what? We’re back in the can. Shut up or I’ll give you somthin’ to worry about.”

I knew he would, sooner or later, and that ain’t no way to live. When he turned away, I gave him a poker upside the head, like I did my wife. Lit a fire, got warm, put his coat on over mine, and left before the cops could get there.

It’s snowing real hard.

I’m shivering.

If I wanted this to be micro flash fiction, like my monthly Hot Flashes, I would take the climax only and just add enough for context.

Warming His Bones

I’m scared, but I’m scareder of Mike, and he says no fire.

When he turns away, I give him a poker upside the head, like I did my wife. Light a fire, get warm, put his coat on over mine, and leave before the cops can follow the smoke.

It’s snowing real hard.

I’m scared.

If I wanted this to be 2000-word flash, I could put in all kinds of detail, background, atmosphere, foreshadowing, and characterization.




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “5 Steps to Flash Fiction #amwriting

  1. Jane

    January 26, 2015 at 9:12am

    I feel kinda chilly just reading these stories.

    Reeeeaaally good, pal.
    And the guide is -yum- delightful.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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