How long is it? Part 2
A short story, by any other name, would still be short. But would it be flash fiction? Last time, we looked at the myriad names for flash fiction. Now we turn to the requisite length for a flash story. Not surprising, there’s little agreement.
Many editors, including Grant Faulkner of 100 Word Story, say flash fiction is 100 words. Lee Masterson, writing in Writing World, has a tidy categorization for stories of limited length: up to 100 words, micro-fiction; 100-1,000 words, flash fiction; 1,000-7,500 words, short story, and up to 20,000 words is a novelette.
A neat classification, but many editors say flash fiction encompasses even the tiniest of stories. Among the many online and print flash fiction journals are those that limit writers to 66 words, 55 words, 50 words, and some limit writers to a specific number of characters. One writer has called character-limit stories Facebook fiction. At the short end of the scale, Smith Magazine limits stories to only six words. Smith has published a variety of books featuring six-word stories, each written by a different person.
At the long end of the scale are those editors who consider flash fiction to reach up to 2,000 words. It would be difficult to read that many words in a flash. Vestal Review, which advertises itself as the, “longest running flash fiction magazine in the world,” (it started in 2000), limits flash fiction to 500 words.
“I don’t think labeling helps anything creative,” says Tara L. Masih, editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. “…people shouldn’t get caught up on word counts and names.”
New England flash fiction writer Doug Mathewson agrees. “You can’t put a number on it, really,” says the widely published writer and editor of his own journal, blink ink. “Its not so much a word count as a feeling. I want [readers] to read it, enjoy it and be done with it.”