The essence of flash fiction in a single sentence is perfectly delivered by the famous line from Shakespeare's Hamlet "Brevity is the soul of wit”.

This type of fiction refers to a very specific kind of short stories that usually abide by a word limit of around 1500 words. In some cases, these pieces can even feel closer to poetry than prose. The limited vocabulary of these pieces which is many a time misunderstood as a weakness, is actually what enables them to be impactful tools of storytelling.

The best examples of this kind of writing often evoke complex characters, complete worlds and lots of clear themes in a simple and concise way, with every word significantly contributing to the progression of the story towards an all-revealing end

Unique characteristics of flash fiction

  • Unlike the longer formats of prose like novels and plays that prioritise plot, flash fiction gives more importance to the movement/change in a story or narrative.
  • In this kind of writing the climax (or the peak of action) usually comes at the end instead of the middle.
  • In good flash fiction every sentence has multiple roles and adds to the layered quality we associate with good writing. This is essential to open up the scope for multiple interpretations of a story.
  • Some written pieces of this format can be as concise as a single line.
  • Like this famous six word short story credited to Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
  • These stories heavily rely on tools like spacing and punctuation for impactful delivery of the final product.

Many creative writing coaches regard writing flash fiction as a vital exercise to learn any form of prose or poetry, as it not only helps one polish their writing but also offers a lot of opportunities to practise one's editing skills which are really beneficial in the long run.

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How do you start creative writing?

Writing corner

Creating your own writing space motivates you to write regularly. Preferably, keep your writing space away from the place where you do your school work. It could be an entire room or just a cozy nook close to the window. Decorate it with quotes from your favourite authors and books. Keep some snacks to munch on. Did you know Roald Dahl wrote from a hut in his garden?

Look around you for inspiration

The key to good writing is choosing an interesting subject. You can look around you for inspiration - your home, neighbourhood, family and the people you meet. According to author Jeffrey Archer, it is better to write what you know and have experienced. Once you stumble upon an idea, ask yourself would you pick up a book on this topic or story in a book store? If you don't find the subject exciting, your readers won't either.

Expand your vocabulary

Avoiding cliches and overused words can help enhance your writing. But that's only possible if you have a rich vocabulary. And the only way you can build your vocabulary is by cultivating a reading habit. Reading more will not only introduce you to new and wonderful words but also teach you about different writing styles and hone your grammar.

Catchy intro

When writing an essay or a story, the intro or opening sentence is the most important. It is what will hook the reader to your piece. So make sure it is catchy and creative. The intro should kindle readers curiosity and make them want to read more.

Literary devices

Literary devices can help elevate a story. They are used by writers to convey deeper meanings about the plot, the characters and the theme. There are at least 22 literary devices in the English language-alliteration, personification, satire, symbolism and oxymoron to name a few. Author Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" is a classic example of the literary device known as foreshadowing: while J.K. Rowling uses the narrative device of a backstory perfectly in her "Harry Potter" books. Next time you read these books, pay special attention to these devices and see how they are used.

Keep it smart

The one cliché that you must follow in your creative writing is to keep your work short and simple. Avoid adverbs and long paragraphs. Writing long sentences might make you feel like an accomplished writer, but they can be difficult to read. Your sentences and paragraphs should not sound contrived.

The art of description

Visualise the scene and characters in your head and then translate that into words. Write in such a manner that your reader too can picture the characters clearly in their mind. The best way to do this is to be descriptive and be specific. For example, if the character is taking a walk in the park, write about the types of trees around her, the colour of the leaves, the breeze, the sound her shoes make on the pavement, etc. These details will transport the reader into the character's world and enhance their reading experience.

Plan, revise and reread

Once you have decided on your subject, you can move on to sketching the plot and characters. Planning is everything. Did you know J.K. Rowling spent five years planning and developing the plot of her bestselling "Harry Potter" series?

Before submitting your work, don't forget to read it again and again. Revise your work and create multiple drafts till you are completely satisfied with it. Ask a family member or a friend to read your work and give you feedback.

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What is the career in creative writing?

Choosing to lead a writer’s life is always difficult. There is no steady income; chances are slimmer than winning the lottery. What’s worse, you are constantly haunted by characters from the past and future: some bursting inside you, waiting to be born, others are demanding a happy ending. Sleepless nights, too many cups of coffee, and eyes that are constantly in search of a story, a twist, come to define you. All in all its not an easy life, certainly not for the fainthearted. Yet those bitten by the writing bug will not choose any other. For them, writing is not just a means to earn a livelihood, it is a compulsion, a tearing need to express. As essential as breathing.


Creative writing is a skill that comes in handy in all fields. So there are opportunities galore. From lawyers to TV reporters, eloquence and out-of-the-box thinking stand to benefit one and all. So even a basic course in creative writing can add to your resume in whichever profession you choose.

Intensive creating writing courses are generally taken up by aspiring writers. You can create original written works as a poet, writer, or a lyricist. The advertising sector is constantly in search of copywriters who can think creatively and come up with catchy lines. Similarly, you can work in the publishing industry: as a book editor. Public relations and corporate communication are also some of the avenues open to those with a flair for writing.


Completing an article, a book or even a short story can often be a struggle. So you need to be highly motivated to write. There will be tight deadlines to meet whether you are working on your own book or on a project. It may take you a while to find a publisher for your work. But if you truly love writing, then keep at it, and maybe someday you will hit gold!

How it works

It is often said that writing cannot be taught. In fact, many of today’s bestselling writers followed non-arts related career paths and eventually turned to writing. But if you are serious about the craft, you will need a creative writing programme to whip your writing into shape.

What to study?

While you do not need any specific degree or academic background to become a professional writer, a degree in English literature and Creative Writing is recommended. If you want to specialize in journalism, many universities offer journalism or mass communication courses at undergraduate and post-graduate level.



  • Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi: Creative writing is taught as part of Master of Arts (M.A.) in English Literature.

  • Jadavpur University, Kolkata: Offers practical courses in Creative Writing and Theatre Studies as part of B.A. and M.A. in English.

  • Delhi University: B.A. Honours (Hons) in Creative Writing

  • The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad: B.A. (Hons) English and M.A. in English Literature

  • Indian Institute of Mass Communication New Delhi: Post Graduate Diploma Course in English Journalism

  • Asian College of Journalism, Chennai: Post Graduate Diploma Course in Journalism (Print, New Media, Radio and Television.)

  • Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication Pune: B.A. and M.A. (Mass Communication)


  • Oxford University, in the U.K.: Master of Studies (M.St) Creative Writing is a two-year, part-time course for post graduates.

  • Cambridge University, the U.K.: Master of Studies (M.St) Creative Writing is designed for those who wish to develop high-level skills in creative writing both in fiction and non-fiction.

  • Columbia University in the U.S: Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A) in Writing.

Some creative writing courses require you to submit a manuscript along with your college application.


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