What Makes A Good Flash Fiction Piece?

Pare down the bones of story structure to create short fiction.

Juneta Key
The Art of Fiction
Published in
4 min readJun 22, 2019


Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash

To answer that question, we need to understand what flash fiction is about. It is a short story under 1000 words, generally right at or around 500 words. Flash fiction is the length of one short scene with emotional IMPACT using shocks, twists, irony, OR something deeply meaningful to end it.

Anything less than 500 is Micro Fiction, which has several sub-categories. If it is more than 1000 words, it would still be considered a short story, not flash fiction.

The purpose of micro-fiction is to express interesting ideas or tell a brief story in as few words as possible differing it from flash fiction which depicts a scene or a “moment or realization” in the life of your character.

Created in Excel by the author using information from Wikipedia and the Author Learning Center.

The Bones of Flash Fiction

  • Flash fiction should have all the qualities of good story craft and scenes with a character having one problem. (This is hook & inciting incident for another term)
  • At least 1 or 2 possible conflicts to carry the story forward. (Forward Action) (Brevity-keeping it simple)
  • And a brief ending, creating an overall satisfying capsule of the story. The short word limit only has room to capture a meaningful or powerful moment in the character’s life.

Short Story Structure for Flash Fiction

Flash fiction should give the reader some satisfaction with its ending. The more complete and self-contained the story the better. I try to create a “semblance” of the 3-arc structure when I write flash fiction keeping it loose with word limits.

  • One or two descriptive words for character e.g. nervous typist, sarcastic officer, disillusion magician
  • One or two descriptive words for setting, e.g. windy sidewalk = city, snowy incline or anything from hill to Everest or ski resort. Sweltering heat = anything from the beach to the desert and so on. Let the reader use their imagination to interpret your word picture…