Stories exist to be told. A story that goes untold is a story bereft of the reason for its existence. An untold story is a sad story. Even an untold happy story is a sad story. And an untold sad story is a very sad story indeed.
The sad truth however is that, up until relatively recently, there were a whole swathe of stories that were either not told at all or pulled out of shape and told in a way that made them a different story altogether.
The thing is, stories have a natural length. Some stories do fit into a nice Radio 4-friendly two thousand words, but there are many more that don’t fit into any nice comfortable slot. Gossamer-thin stories that don’t stretch longer than fifty words without snapping. Experimental stories that would fry the reader’s brain if the experiment continued beyond a couple of hundred or so. Stories that rely on sheer compression of narrative to make their impact.
The good news, however, is that in the last few years, more and more homes for these stories have appeared, along with a name: flash fiction. Sure, there have always been very short stories bubbling around, but never to the same extent as there are now. And the really wonderful thing – from both the reader’s and writer’s point of view – is that because it’s a relatively new concept, these are all new stories. Fresh stories. Untold stories.
And that, I guess, is what I love about flash fiction: its capacity for originality. You’ll read stuff in flashes that you’ve never encountered before in a conventional short story. You’ll read stuff presented in ways that you’ve never come across before. And sometimes you’ll read truly weird stuff that just couldn’t have worked in a conventional story.
I love writing flash fiction for exactly the same reason: it offers the opportunity to try stuff that hasn’t been tried before, to experiment with unusual styles and unexpected subject matter. Most importantly, it gives those untold stories a chance finally to get themselves an audience.