There’s something liberating about creating flash fiction. Writing a story of under a thousand words, or even one as short as a sentence or two can often let you be more creative. It can spin off in any crazy direction, there isn’t space for too much description or character development, and the limited word count means the reader’s imagination has to play a big part too.

Here are my top twelve tips to get you started with writing flash fiction...

1. Set yourself a word limit and keep to it.

2. If you’re stuck with how to begin get a friend to write down the name of a relative (e.g. My Great Uncle Claude, or My second cousin’s husband Tim), and a place they’ve never been to. Use these two bits of information to start your story.

3. Write your first draft knowing no one else will read it. Be as creative and crazy as you like. Have fun.

4. Write your first draft long. If your word limit is 100, write 150 or 200 words.

5. Try to write a story with a beginning, middle and end.

6. Twists are always good in flash fiction, but don’t treat the ending like a punchline. You’re not writing a gag.

7. Writing the first draft should be one third of your overall time. The remaining two thirds should be spent revising and editing.

8. Be ruthless when editing. Cut adverbs (and not only those ending in ly, but almost, rather, often, just etc), adjectives, and whole sentences and paragraphs where necessary.

9. Be specific with your language. Ambled, rather than walked slowly. Oak, rather than tree. Starlings rather than birds.

10. Make sure every single word earns its place in your story.

11. Read your piece aloud to yourself and then to someone else (it’s amazing how much an audience makes you want to edit some more).

12. Put your story away for a week or a month, and then read and edit it again.

  • Our Endless Numbered Days


    'Fuller handles the tension masterfully in this grown-up thriller of a fairytale, full of clues, questions and intrigue' The Times

    'Extraordinary. From the opening sentence it is gripping' Sunday Times

    1976: Peggy Hillcoat is eight. She spends her summer camping with her father, playing her beloved record of The Railway Children and listening to her mother's grand piano, but her pretty life is about to change.

    Her survivalist father, who has been stockpiling provisions for the end which is surely coming soon, takes her from London to a cabin in a remote European forest. There he tells Peggy the rest of the world has disappeared.

    Her life is reduced to a piano which makes music but no sound, a forest where all that grows is a means of survival. And a tiny wooden hut that is Everything.

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  • Swimming Lessons

  • Ingrid writes letters to her husband Gil about their life together. But instead of giving them to him, she hides each in the thousands of books Gil has collected. Despite their two daughters, despite their beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, despite Gil's talent as a writer, their marriage has been troubled. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach. Twelve years later her adult daughter Flora comes home to look after her injured father. Secretly, Flora has never believed that her mother is dead, and she starts asking questions, without realizing that the answers she's looking for are hidden in the books that surround her.
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