Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction Review by Miriam N. Kotzin

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is destined to be a best seller. It's a valuable resource not only for writers and teachers of creative writing, but for readers who want to deepen their understanding of this popular form. For a writer who's never written flash, but who has thought it might be something he'd like to try (e.g., a poet who is thinking of making a leap to writing fiction) this is a must read. Someone who has given considerable thought to flash, its shaping, and its relationship to poetry, will also find this book of interest.

The excellent introduction, by the editor, Tarah L. Masih provides an overview of flash fiction in the context of the international history of the short story. Each of the twenty-five essays addresses an aspect of writing flash and twenty-four include an exercise and a story that serves as example. Among the subjects addressed are the value of exercises, the roots and future of flash, connections to poetry, titles, beginnings, imagery, endings, and the all-important editing. Writers will be itching to do the exercises.

The list of contributors in Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is a Who's Who in the world of flash, all of them acknowledged experts: Steve Almond, Rusty Barnes, Randall Brown, Mark Budman, Robert Olen Butler, Stace Budzco Ron Carlson, Kim Chinquee, Stuart Dybek, Pamelyn Castro, Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Sherrie Flick, Vanessa Gebbie, Tom Hazuka, Nathan Leslie, Michael Martone, Julio Ortega, Pamela Painter, Jennifer Pieroni, Jayne Ann Phillips, Shouhua Qi, Bruce Holland Rogers, Lex Wilford, Robert Shapard, and Deb Olin Unferth. LINKS TO STORIES IN PER CONTRA.

The section Recommendations for Future Reading is an impressive list of anthologies, collections and individual stories. Of these individual stories, only a few are online although some of the contributors to this volume are editors of online journals and many of the writers publish both in online journals as well as on paper.

Tarah L. Masih, Ed. Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field. Rose Metal Press, 2009. 168 pages.



2005-2009 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas


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