I didn’t always write flash fiction. I never saw myself as a novelist, but I did write regular-length short stories. I started mailing out my first short stories way back in the late 60s after I rotated back home from the Vietnam War.
What writers did I read? The usual suspects: Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, Raymond Carver…The list goes on and on. Then there were the not so usual suspects: Dick Francis, Gertrude Stein, Joyce Carol Oates, Chekhov, Dorothy Parker, Ann Ryan and this list goes on and on…And these were the writers I read on my own. Of course, there were all the writers you have to read in high school and in college.
So, if you are a new flash fiction writer, you can draw on all of the writers that you have ever read to inform your flash fiction; and add to this the life you live and you have a rich source of material to inform your flash fiction.
The challenge, as I see it, for the new flash fiction writer, is to take his or her literary background and his or her life and to draw upon both to create flash fiction that is not only great entertainment, but that when it is good enough, it is also art.
If a writer is serious enough and talented enough and lucky enough, the length of the flash fiction story will be long enough to capture with accuracy what it means to be human in the computer age we live in.