Tess, flasher elite from How the Cookie Crumbles, reached in the hat and pulled out a question. Is flash fiction here to stay? Check out her research. (A brief announcement follows the festivities.)
I see the human race bustle around with noses pointed downwards instead of forward as used to be the norm. Everyone seems busy on iPods and iPhones texting or broadcasting the minutiae of their lives to the world as if no-one can hear. To save time and their typing thumbs, they even spell in a short cryptic language (afaic = as far as I’m concerned). See what I mean? Hurry, hurry with everything.
Do these harried people have time to read books, magazines or newspapers? Anything?
Books and magazines are still printed and aren’t dead yet, but eZines are springing up like a field of wild flowers. Electronic access by Kindle, Kobo and iReader etc., as well as iPods and iPhones, makes reading available with the push of a button: anytime and anywhere. I wonder who is reading what and why.
I did a survey among friends, neighbors and strangers to get a feel of what they read. (Yep, I asked total strangers; but in broad daylight, so I was safe.) The greater number confided their inclination towards the novel and the majority favored a real paper copy, magazines included. The preference of those on the go and comfortable with electronics, accounted for the lesser percent. They chose their prized gadgets for reading to varied extents.
What surprised me was the quantity of die hards who never go anywhere without a (real) book in the car or in a purse. The consensus was that you never know when a traffic tie-up may occur or the doctor / dental office’s offering of magazines might not be of interest and so on. The bulk of those surveyed chose magazines and short story reading: flash fiction (up to 1,000 words) for their entertainment pleasure. Why not use today’s friendly electronic devices? They weren’t interested.
Also, novel readers felt they wouldn’t experience the satisfaction from short stories that a long novel awarded (the ones you don’t want to end). Others said they were content to follow their favourite authors and weren’t interested in anything else. Several people thought the short clips and jokes in Reader’s Digest were the right length. They were always tempted to read all the jokes before anything else in the magazine.
The perfect example arrived without prodding. It sounds as if the entertainment expediency and length of flash fiction is a lot like those jokes in Reader’s Digest. When I drew the parallel, a few naysayers—not all—better understood the function of Flash Fiction.
The bottom line: Is Flash Fiction Here to Stay?
In the end, the split was close between the short story and Flash Fiction. Life is demanding, rushed and full of distractions. We are wired, overworked multi-taskers. Even those set in their ways saw the benefits of Flash Fiction and agreed it is gaining ground. Everything around us competes for our short attention spans. What works best to grab our interest and hold on long enough to satisfy?
I like novels too, but years ago, when I became more interested in writing, I appreciated the efficiency and usefulness of the short story because of time: on the bus or train or in a waiting room. And as the clock whirled faster and the days became busier each year, I discovered Flash Fiction. Perfect tidbits for minute relief: a shiver, a giggle, a puzzle to solve.
Flash hasn’t had enough exposure yet, but the signs are clear; Flash is gaining momentum and is here to stay. Even an overworked brain needs a momentary diversion, doesn’t it? Why not reward it a shot of delight?
Tess made the cover of the last three Flash in the Pan series books. Her flash is superlative. Take a few moments to check out her blog and books. Give her a round of virtual applause in thanks for bringing you her survey results today.
When did you start reading flash fiction? Had you considered the parallel between jokes and other microfiction to flash?
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