June 22nd is National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD) in Aotearoa.
Audio: [podcast from Otago Access Radio with Iona Winter]
year a competition is held between February and April, and writers are invited
to submit a Flash Fiction story of up to 300 words. You still have time to submit your entry!
Flash Fiction may appear to be a new style of writing, but it has been around for hundreds of years—dating as far back as the 14th century.
Edgar Allan Poe, as referenced in Rose Metal Press (2014) My Very End of the Universe, is said to have chosen short prose narratives and called the style ‘a tale’. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, is another example of the genre.
Flash Fiction requires a reader to pay attention to the intimacy of the characters lives from the very first word. This style of writing also allows for space, interpretation, reflection and imaginings by the reader.
It is a way of accessing new audiences for writers. Perfect for writers who work a ‘day job’, a story can be focused on for a period of time, sculpted, edited and completed.
Constructing a beginning, middle, and end with a very tight word limit means there is no room for backstory, extraneous dialogue or complex narrative arcs. Flash Fiction is a finely tuned craft, because every word counts.
Flash Fiction has a freedom that conventional novel writing does not allow. The layout, use of white space on the page, where in the story a writer might start, twists, turns and intrigue, all leave a reader wanting more and creates a successful story.
With digital technology at the forefront in the writing world, Flash Fiction allows readers to engage for a short but meaningful time. It is a medium where poetry and fiction forms meld, enabling authors to create works of great depth.
In the words of Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The soul of the reader is at the writer’s control and there are no external or extrinsic influences resulting from weariness or interruption.’
With support from Dunedin Public Libraries and Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, we will host Ōtepoti Dunedin’s regional event on the evening of Friday 22nd June, where nationwide results will be announced. Prizes for National, Regional, Adult and Youth Categories will be awarded, followed by readings of the winning Flash Fiction pieces, and all are welcome to join us and enjoy these beautiful creations of short fiction.
Iona Winter is the Dunedin Chair for NFFD. She has had numerous Flash Fiction stories published in Aotearoa and internationally, and is currently working on a Novella-in-Flash.