Bad (Flash Fiction) Writing


I’m not sure how many people really know when they are reading bad writing… I’m not even sure how may people really give a crap.  There are so many websites, news sites, content mills, blogs, social media platforms, etc., that contain – ok, I’ll say it – sh***y freaking writing; writing that, while readable, isn’t worthy of being read and still it is read.

And in this day of self-publishing… oh boy.

If you aren’t a good writer (or a clone of Ernest Hemingway) then you most likely wouldn’t understand that you are reading bad writing.  You either like the book or you don’t.  You don’t give it much thought.

Sally: ‘Hey, did you check out that book I told you about?’

Jane: ‘ Yeah, I tried, but it just didn’t hold me.’

Sally: ‘OMG!  What do you mean?  It was so riveting.’

Jane: ‘…’

Bad writing hurts good writers.


It hurts good writers because good writers aren’t born, they are created.  An excellent book about writing is Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ as well as this article of rules.  It won’t kill you to check out Strunk and White, either.

There are dozens of books on writing.  I own many of them and if you want to be a writer, you should own some, too.  But don’t go out and just buy any book.  Find out what books are truly useful (and those that aren’t).  Use Amazon to read some excerpts and find out if it has a friendly format.  Use Amazon to find out if you like the way it is written.

In order to break the rules, you first have to know them.  

You can’t break the rules unless you know the rules. 

Know the rules so you can break the rules.*

You also have to read… yes, read.  Read anything and everything.  Read books in the genre you wish to write, read magazines, online blogs; read all of it and then read other genres.  When I was a kid I used to read the entire cereal box – even the ingredients.  True story.

Polysorbate 80, baby! Woo!

I write a lot of flash fiction, which a lot of people mistakenly think is easy.

Flash fiction is not easy to write.  People think they have written flash fiction by plucking an excerpt from a longer work or writing 2,000 words and calling it flash fiction because it is not the length of a novel.

No.  That is not flash fiction.

Flash fiction is a compact story with a lot of information in 750 words or less.  I’ve written flash fiction pieces in 300 words or less.

Here are some examples:

The Broken Road


The new flash fiction is 1,000 words or less… but when I started writing flash fiction (and taking college writing courses) in 2001, flash fiction was called a ‘short short story’ and it was 750 words or less.

That is flash fiction.  A short, compact story with powerful words written in 750 words or less.  If you’ve written a piece containing 1,000 or 2,000 words, you have written a short story.

Flash fiction: less is more.

What are your thoughts on flash fiction writing?  Are you a fan of flash fiction?

*Only applies to writing.