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Flash Fiction

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When is a short story so short that it becomes a different type of story? What is the difference between the short story and microfiction? And what is the relationship between brevity and narrative?

This practical creative writing course considers the burgeoning genre of flash fiction, exploring the spectrum of brief narratives, including microfiction, drabbles, nanofiction, twitfic and the short-short, and their place within modern society and technology. It will provide an overview of publishing opportunities and practical tips on approaching magazine and competition submissions.

Learning and teaching

There will be two-hour meetings once a week (20 contact hours in all) which will include discussions, exercises, craft lectures and workshops.

Learners will be encouraged to read texts introduced and obtain feedback from the tutor and other members of the group.

The university’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, provides a useful resource for course materials, lecture slides and additional reading.

Sessions are likely to include:

  • Creative writing skills: fundamental terminology and concepts relevant to Flash Fiction
  • Exploration of contemporary trends, styles and developments in Flash Fiction, including microfiction, drabbles, nanofiction, twitfic and the short-short
  • Discussion of published examples of Flash Fiction
  • Revision, feedback, and reflection
  • Publishing Flash Fiction: open calls, competitions and other avenues.

Coursework and assessment

Students will be assessed via a portfolio of flash fictions (80%) and a critical commentary (20%).

The commentary, in the form of a reflective journal, will enable students to explore their own creative practice and to engage with wider reading in the discipline. Students will produce up to 1800 words in total across the two assignments.

Reading suggestions

Primary Texts and Websites

  • Bath Flash Fiction Award, To Carry Her Home: Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Volume One (Ad Hoc Fiction)
  • Tiff Holland et al, My Very End of the Universe: Five Novellas-in-Flash and a Study of the Form (Rose Metal Press, 2014)
  • Tara L Masih, ed. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field (Rose Metal Press, 2009)
  • James Thomas, Robert Shapard and Christopher Merrill (eds.), Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2015)

Recommended Reading

  • Isaac Asimov (ed.) 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories (London: Robson, 1978)
  • Carly Berg (ed.) Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash fiction (South Coast Books, 2016)
  • David Eggers, Short Short Stories (Penguin, 2005)
  • David Gaffney, Sawn-Off Tales (Salt, 2006)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Palm-Of-The-Hand Stories (Macmillan, 2006)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.