Wednesday 31 January 2024

"Flash fiction as a distinct literary form ..." by Shelley Roche-Jacques

In "Flash fiction as a distinct literary form: some thoughts on time, space, and context" (from "New Writing - The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing") Shelley Roche-Jacques look at some aspects of Flash, prose poems and short stories.

  • She suggests that Flash has a distinguishing feature that prose poems don't need - "I am of the opinion that something needs to happen, or perhaps more importantly, that a context needs to be created in which there is the possibility of something happening"
  • When comparing Flash and short stories she thinks "most critics and writers seem to suggest the difference is more in degree than kind"

That seems fair enough to me. I think it's useful to restrict the "Flash Fiction" category to pieces which acknowledge the concept of narrative. There are pieces of short creative prose that aren't prose poems or CNF, nor do they create a narrative context, but such pieces (on the essay/flash spectrum maybe, or shaped prose, or triptychs, etc) can fend for themselves.

She makes some other observations that I agree with too -

  • "As an avid reader of flash fiction, I have noticed the prevalence of the simple present tense. ... Perhaps, as Flick points out, because of the simplicity and sense of immersion it offers."
  • "the brevity of the flash fiction form perhaps affords the writer greater freedom to play and experiment. The deft use of deictic elements can be seen as a way of establishing swift immersion and/or negotiating the spatio-temporal layers and landscape."
  • "Due to the limited space in flash fiction, a popular and effective technique seems to be to have the protagonist ‘thinking forward’ beyond the end of the scene"

I think lots of U.A. Fanthorpe's pieces could nowadays fit in a short text category, but that's another story ...

My out-of-date contributions to the debate include -

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