PWN instructor and PWN’s Debut Review podcast co-host Courtney Harler is once again teaching Flash Fiction & Memoir. We sat down with Courtney and asked her a few questions about this exciting genre.
PWN: First things first, can you briefly describe the definition of flash?
COURTNEY: Prose fewer than 1,000 words, usually. Some markets accept up to 1,500. Flash works like its name: a fork of lightning, or a spark of energy. It needs to make an immediate impact on the writer and the reader.
PWN: What about flash draws you to write and teach the genre?
COURTNEY: I like the brevity, the concision. The tolerance for lyrical language and rich imagery. It’s the closest you can get to writing poetry when writing prose.
PWN: Why would you encourage writers who might normally be more interested in longer pieces, or even books, to write flash?
COURTNEY: To practice precision and power with words. To learn how to make all your prose sing, all your images leap from the page. To learn what you need, and what you don’t.
PWN: Based on the submission calls we’ve seen, flash seems to be all the rage now, so many publications are asking for flash pieces. Why do you think that’s so?
COURTNEY: Flash is popular today because it’s short like poetry, but perhaps a bit more accessible. Most readers still want a connection via narrative and character development, but they want it yesterday. Maybe it has to do with shorter attention spans due to too much scrolling screen time, or the way the world breaks our brains (politics, pandemics), but it involves compression, and how much we accomplish with given constraints. Flash is its own unique literary art form, and it’s actually been popular for a few decades now, though it grows more so.
PWN: Who is publishing the most interesting flash pieces these days?
COURTNEY: For great flash creative nonfiction, try Brevity or The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. For daily flash fiction, try Flash Fiction Magazine or Reflex Fiction. For both, try CRAFT, where I serve as editor-in-chief. I might be biased, but I think we publish some of the best flash prose. Wigleaf’s Top 50 just came out as well, and all the flash anthologies are great resources too.
Well, thank you, Courtney, for taking the time to talk to us. Flash is definitely an exciting and fun genre!
Courtney’s class Flash Fiction & Memoir runs for six weeks on Mondays at 7 p.m. ET, beginning September 18. Register now!