What Is Flash Nonfiction? Essay

2493 words - 10 pages

When I think of the word flash, I think about a bright light sparking for a quick instant of time. When I think of the world nonfiction, I think about biographies, almanacs, journals, diaries, documentaries, and scientific papers. If I put these two words together, I immediately think that flash nonfiction is a brief type of nonfiction but what exactly is flash nonfiction? What makes up flash nonfiction? Where and how did it originate? How does it compare to other types of nonfiction? And, where can I find more? After reading The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers edited by Dinty W. Moore, ...view middle of the document...

For example, instead of just saying that the person had woken up, Jennifer Sinor says, “set off to meet the morning” (57). The writer uses words that describe rather than tell.
Lia Purpura compares flash nonfiction to things that are miniature. She describes how people look at baby fingers and toes; they are so small, and “we can’t believe they work” (Purpura 1). Thinking of this in terms of writing, these works usually “suggest there is more than meets the eye easily” (Purpura 3). “They suggest there is much to miss if we don’t look hard at spaces, crevices, crannies” (Purpura 3). Although, she mentions that there is more to flash nonfiction than its brevity, she has me thinking about how within such a short amount of time an impact is created. These works “transcend their size;” their impression is much larger than the number of words that create it (Purpura 4). For example, Carol Guess uses a short number of words, and she chooses the best words to generate this very descriptive and powerful sentence – “My father the mathematician moved unswervingly toward the elegant answer, toward numbers so bright in the distance that he forgot to look both ways for cars” (Guess 16). Therefore, using a small amount of words to create a big impact in a nonfictional piece is one characteristic of flash nonfiction. ).
Barrie Jean Borich describes flash nonfiction by illuminating on the flash in the stories. “When I consider the term flash nonfiction, I think of the nonfiction writer’s job of rendering the movement of the world, yet the word “flash” - the part of the definition meaning a sudden, bright, glint of understanding – does not lead me into familiar protracted forms of literary narrative” (Borich 8). Rather she looks for the writer’s “decisive moment”, that moment in which the writer expresses his actuality (Borich 8). “The Decisive Movement in literature is not just the rendering of small space of time, but also some slant verbalization of all that the moment conveys” (Borich 9). “For a short short piece of nonfiction to work, the opening and ending lines must have this kind of relationship, and bring us farther than we ever imaged a few lines could travel” (Miller 31). González describes how creating a memorable image in your writing makes flash nonfiction similar to a prose poem (34). For example, “flash nonfiction is more like a prose poem whose voice speaks from an autobiographical ‘I,’ whose vehicle is sensory imagery, and whose tenor is emotional experience” (González 34). Likewise, “the “I” in creative nonfiction is a literary device used to enhance and explore complicated truth” (Silverman 70). One way of doing this is to speak in voice, not voice like how we text or e-mail, but to be personal. For example, diary “voice” is warm, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good artful writing (Silverman 70). It is important to bring the reader inside the experience (Silverman 71). According to Shumaker, it is important for the...

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