What is flash fiction exactly? Well, it really has no definitive definition. It is broadly described as, “a short story in miniature, a work of art carved on a grain of rice - something of import to the artist or writer that is confined and reduced, either by design or outcome, into a small square space using the structural devices of prose line and paragraph form with the purpose of creating an intense, emotional impact” (Masih XI). So in layman's terms a very, very, very short story meant to make your feel intense emotions in a short amount of time.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of flash fiction is its brief length. Flash fictions are very short, hence the name flash fiction. They usually take much less than four to five minutes to read and are very intense. Intense in the fact that they really try to make you feel or understand an emotion or situation a character(s) is going through. They may be short reads but they are meant to be extremely powerful.
Another distinguishing characteristic is the lack of a story arc, sometimes. Flash fictions are very, very short, so they lack on filler detail that is usually in longer fictions. Seeing as flash fiction lacks that filler detail, it sometimes lacks the details necessary for a complete story arc. So, sometimes authors will leave those details out and let the audience members fill in the story arc themselves. Readers are often looking for the basic parts of the story arc: exposition, complication(s), climax, and resolution(s), so they will automatically fill in the missing pieces that may not be there.
Flash fiction in America is supposedly supposed to have come from Washington Irving's story collection entitled The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. This collection of essays and stories, published in 1820, began a trend leading to shorter fictions being written in America. However, the earliest example of a published flash fiction that Tara Masih could find was written by August Strindberg, a writer from Sweden. The flash fiction entitled Half a Sheet of Foolscap is the first flash fiction example that compresses a large span of time into a short short story. The story involves a time span of two years in less than three pages of writing. These places are the basis of flash fiction and are really where flash fiction truly began, started to take shape and evolve into what they have now become.
Flash fiction is very similar to other forms of writing for a few reasons. First, it has a beginning, middle, and an end. Without the beginning the story would have no setting, situation, mood or any character introduction. Without those the story has no feeling(s) to establish the feel and mood of the story. Is it going to be a sad, happy, exciting, or angry flash fiction? In the middle of the story is where the conflicts happen. Without the conflicts and the climax the story really has no where to go. It just becomes a report on the actions that someone took unopposed and its boring. The...