Teaching Flash Fiction: From the book ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’   Leave a comment


can be done in one lesson. The students can get acquainted with its history and style and come out of the lesson gasping for more! The flash fiction genre is fun, it’s dynamic and it suits all ability ranges. To see the first 30 lesson plans from ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ and its accompanying ‘Teachers’ Guide’, just click the link below which says ‘September Lesson Plans’.


September Lesson Plans




Take a look below at how easy it is to give  a one-day lesson on Flash Fiction:



The term ‘flash fiction’ can be dated back to the 6th century B.C. This is when it is believed ‘Aesop’s Fables’ were collected. Flash fiction is when a story is cut down to the bare minimum of words. A lot of competitions on the internet want less than 1,000 words. Others want less than 500.

Most people see it as an art that requires less than 100 words, or sometimes 55. Here is an example from Aesop’s Fables that fulfils this requirement:

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high up on the vine. He couldn’t do it, even though he leaped with all his might. Eventually, he gave up. As he walked away, he said: “I didn’t want you anyway. You aren’t even ripe and I don’t need sour grapes.”

Did you like this story? What is the moral of the story, in your opinion? Count the words and see how many there are.

The important thing to recognise is that the story has a beginning, middle and an end. It also has a setting, characterization and conflict. Just like any other short story, these features are important. Flash fiction is also known as micro fiction, postcard fiction and short shorts. In China, it is referred to as ‘smoke long’. They believe the story should be finished before your cigarette is!

In the 1920’s, the writer Ernest Hemingway was in Luchow’s restaurant in New York. The accepted story is that he challenged a group of writers that he could start, maintain and finish a story in six words. He put $10 on the table and said he would give them the same amount if they failed. Although they were reluctant at first, they discussed it and said it was impossible. They all put their $10 on the table. He wrote six words on a handkerchief and passed it around. They all paid up when they saw it.

That, apparently, is the start of flash fiction as we know it. It involves stripping away any unnecessary words. However, if you Google http://www.quotefinder.com you may get a different perspective on this event. If you are wondering what Hemingway wrote down, he scribbled:

For sale, never used, baby boots.                                  Do you find this very sad? Others do.

Do you think you could write a story in either 6 words or less than 55? Try to do it and you will see how it requires a more distilled way of thinking and writing. Underneath are some ideas:

1) Life’s a dance. I never learned.

2) Distracted driving. Oak tree. Closed casket.

3) Wake, school, sleep. Resistance is futile.

4) Ship returns, empty slippers, waiting children.

5) She drove away, never to return.

6) Oh no! The parachute is jammed!


After reading this page, the teacher should then encourage the students to write a dramatic, 6-word story. The students can also try to ‘flesh out’ the plot for the 6 stories above and put in the colours, sounds and sensations that would apply to them.

Hey presto! You have just taught the basics of flash fiction in one lesson. Congrats!




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Liam O’ Flynn’s descriptive blog can be accessed by using the following link: https://descriptivewriting.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=723&action=edit











Posted June 24, 2014 by liamo in Uncategorized

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