- Tue, May 15 2007
- Filed under: Writing
Blog reader Bonnie B just sent me a link to her blog, where she practices her craft of writing. She also includes a piece of her flash fiction (see comments). This got me thinking: why not flash (non)fiction? Flash fiction is a very, very short story - only a few hundred words. The shortest and most famous was by Hemingway, as Wikipedia reminds us. Not surprisingly for a writer known for his exquisite brevity, he told a story in six words.
Flash fiction differs from a vignette in that the flash-fiction work contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike the case with a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. This principle, taken to the extreme, is illustrated by Ernest Hemingway’s six-word flash, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
How about some cause-related, flash (non)fiction?
Here is a very fine example from Mercy Corps:
Sanam, Niger - You can see the difficulty of life here in Boubacar Harouna’s eyes. They are yellowed from chronic malaria and glassy from exhaustion. Still, Harouna somehow summons the energy to treat dozens of patients each day as the town’s only nurse.
Clad in an improbably clean, crisp white coat, Harouna makes the rounds to check on his patients - many of whom lay outside under shade trees because of the lack of beds here. One man, so weak from malaria that he cannot sit up or even move, is sprawled out on a dingy mattress with an intravenous drip in his arm.
One of the clinic’s few observation rooms holds four-year-old Ousama Mamidou, who was transported here in a donkey cart from a nearby village. Already chronically anemic and severely malnourished, Ousama arrived in convulsions from a malaria fever. Even after treatment with anti-malarial medications and rehydration solution, she’s still listless in her mother’s arms and fighting for survival.
“You’ve come on a slow day,” Harouna says with no trace of irony on his care-worn face.