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The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field Kindle Edition

25 customer reviews

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Length: 208 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Accessible enough for pleasure reading but instructive enough for the classroom, this volume brings together brief essays by 25 writers known for their talent in flash fiction, aka the "short short story," roughly defined as a tale "1-3 pages and 250-1,000 words" long. Along with personal musings on the genre, each author provides a prompt, and their own short piece to illustrate it. Editor and fiction writer Masih provides a remarkably thorough history of flash fiction, dating the phrase "short short story" to a 1926 issue of Collier's Weekly. Contributors include award-winning writer Jayne Anne Phillips, who writes that "one-page fiction should hang in the air of the mind like an image made of smoke"; Shouhua Qi shares her thoughts on the Chinese short short, which they also call a "Smoke-Long story," as in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette; and Vanessa Gebbie, who reminds us of Hemmingway's famous 6-word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Robert Olen Butler and Steve Almond discuss the difference between flash fiction and prose poetry, the former remarking that "fiction is the art form of human yearning"; Almond, meanwhile, chronicles his journey from bad poetry to good short stories. An expansive list of further reading rounds out this smart, fun, provocative guide to an increasingly popular form.


A thoughtful and thought-provoking resource, casting fresh light on the practice of flash fiction. Each essay is a gem, encrusted with outstanding prompts and valuable exercises. Anyone who hopes to write (or teach) the very short fiction form needs to read this book. --Dinty W. Moore, editor of The MAMMOTH Book of Miniscule Fiction

There are many writing guides brought in on the wave of creative writing courses steadily multiplying across the globe. There are good ones and bad ones: the Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is definitely a good one; I would even say a very good one. It doesn't promise unparalleled success or anything else it can't deliver, but does provide real insight into how writers work in this medium doing by exactly what it says on the cover - providing guidance that gently leads the would-be flash writer along the path to making their own work truly shine. --Jacky Taylor, How Publishing Really Works, online July 27, 2009

Product Details

  • File Size: 840 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rose Metal Press (February 25, 2013)
  • Publication Date: February 25, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,050 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Henkle on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as soon as I read a review about it in "The Writer" Magazine (Dec 09, pg 44, by Amy Wallen).

In an irony to the subject, flash fiction, the introduction of this field guide is the longest chapter in the entire book, weighing-in at 26 pages. Despite its length, Ms. Misah provides the reader with an interesting history of flash fiction.

I found the essays within this guidebook to be useful and informative. Each essay ranged from 3-9 pages, which included a writing prompt and an example of flash fiction. As you could expect, the authors had some differences of opinion on what makes an effective short-short story. What they did agree on, was that each story should be thought-provoking and leave the reader with an indelible image.

I found most of the story examples, "thought provoking" alright. My usual responses were, "huh?" or even, "What was that all about?"

I guess I'm not the literary type. I'm not into deciphering an author's meaning and images in his or her story.

My favorite was "Inside Job" by Pamela Painter. In this flash--(warning! Plot spoiler ahead!)--a university couple are attending a party. After noticing her husband hit on another one of his graduate students, Marla goes into the kitchen to grab a drink, but accidently douses her blouse with seltzer water. One of Marla's graduate students tries to help dab off the water and she guides his hand--underneath her blouse.


Talk about an "indelible image!"

I rate this book a solid four stars. This is more out of personal bias. With the exception of "Inside Job," it's hard for me to get excited over a how-to book. However, for anyone interested in writing flash fiction, or improving their craft in this niche-genre, this is an invaluable guide.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Wendy A. Skinner on December 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book after hearing about it at the 2010 AWP conference in Denver. The collection of essays are from different writers, teachers, and editors and when put together, makes a varied and well-rounded discussion on a somewhat fluid genre. The format for each contributor is an essay followed by a flash example and a relative exercise. It's simple and to the point, yet still creative and thought stimulating.

Later that summer, I slowly progressed through my "field guide," taking time to digest each essay with its writing exercises. I thought of it like poetry. I could've read through the entire book in a day, but in order to let it soak in, I savored every word, paragraph, and essay and used the experience to guide, inspire, and give me the kick in the pants I needed to continue flexing my writing brain over the summer.

In addition to enjoying my time spent writing with my "field guide," I've since had two of the short-shorts I wrote over that summer published. If you need your own kick in the pants, you'll be glad you bought this book to inspire and guide you while you explore this exhilarating form!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Free2Read on April 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What to do when your fiction, long or short, stalls? The Rose Metal Press "Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction" provides exercises, examples, motivational quotations, and advice.

Whether the writer is working on a novel, a true flash fiction piece, or something inbetween, this manual, edited by Tara Mashih, is readable and helpful.

The analogy of musicians playing scales on the piano or plucking them endlessly on the guitar, reminds writers that sometimes we need to warm up the writing part of our brain. In doing so, memories are released, our imaginations go places we have not considered before, and voila! a new story awaits us.

There are also definitions of what flash or sudden fiction is, what editors are looking for, and how to use flash fiction as a gateway to getting published.

As a frequent participant in flash fiction contests, I found many helpful hints in this volume. It is one I will turn to frequently when the Muse is not wafting my way.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Angela Wilson VINE VOICE on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a really good tome on the art of flash fiction.

It doesn't try to force writers into a box while penning super-short stories, but offers guidance, examples and writing prompts to get them started.

It is short - which I loved - and a good read. I found some of the prompts not suited to my personal tastes, but they did send me into my own list of story ideas to get started. I will also admit that I'm into some of the short story examples here - but they just aren't my genre. I'm into paranormals and thrillers, so my own writing reflects. They were still excellent examples of the craft.

Even authors who write long fiction could benefit from some of the lessons and advice in this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Katey Schultz on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tara L. Masih's introduction to this book was one of the most engaging, thorough, specific introductions to a book (anthology, guide, or otherwise) that I have ever read. I have a hard time not crossing my eyes when someone starts "talking history" but the combination of her succinct thoroughness and my love of flash, has made me read the 38-page intro to the Field Guide time and time again. As far as I'm concerned, Masih's intro is the best source around for the history of the genre and I think it will continue to be a gift to students, teachers, and writers alike for decades to come.

As a whole, the collection is equally informative. When I am teaching a workshop, I'm rarely able to lead prompts while also participating in them myself. But the suggestions in this Field Guide were so engaging, I couldn't help but also write while I was teaching. What a gift to the genre this book is!
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