Although I like to think of myself as a writer, to many readers around the world I’m probably more familiar as editor of the flash fiction online publication Friday Flash Fiction. Friday Flash Fiction – usually referred to by its followers as “FFF” – began as a conversation thread LinkedIn in 2013, but quickly outgrew that social media platform, and in the intervening years a total of over 10,000 stories and poems have appeared on Friday mornings.
The beating heart of FFF is its ultra-short fiction section, i.e. fiction of 75-100 words. (It therefore includes “drabbles”, but drabbles have exactly 100 words.) The essential challenge of Friday Flash Fiction is to write a new, fresh story each week in time for publication on the next upcoming Friday at 7:00 am UK time, although nowadays there are so many stories to publish that a second batch is published at 10:30 to give each story a few hours on the front page. There’s a lot of reading there, even although the stories are short. The one thing we insist on is that the story is freshly-written that week, and isn’t a re-hash of something that’s appeared elsewhere previously.
Editing takes up a lot of my time, but it’s hugely rewarding. I’m well aware that, for many writers, this is their first venture into creative writing, and seeing their work validated nby being published for the world to read sets them off in more ambitious directions. We have a number of younger writers; we don’t reveal ages, though, everyone is judged the same. We also have a surprising number of writers whose first language is not English: perhaps they’re learning, and being encouraged to write by a professor or tutor; perhaps they simply want to brush up their skills.
I’m aware that there are other reasons for writing, too. Writing can be great therapy for individuals currently finding life difficult for one reason or another. Recently, one of our contributors has been posting material from Ukraine, where she personally has witnessed rocket attacks and bombs at close range – and yet she wants to express herself in fiction terms. She’s good, too.
We don’t accept everything submitted, but I want to encourage, not create some sort of contest to see who gets published and who doesn’t. What makes for good flash fiction is for another post, but in general so long as it’s a story written in decent English, isn’t tasteless or nasty, and meets our fairly obvious requirements to complete the submission form correctly, we’ll publish it.
I said that the vast majority of writers appreciate the hours (and a little financial support) that go into editing any publication, whether electronic or in print, but there will always be exceptions. Writers are artists, after all, and throwing toys out of the pram isn’t unknown for creative types when they feel slighted, rejected or treated unreasonably. Friday Flash Fiction offers a feedback service for which we charge a minimal fee (£5.00 is nothing, believe me) and yet there are still those who think “Was my story rejected because it was ––?” isn’t a request for feedback. A good tip for any writer is to ask yourself: what is the publisher getting from my story? And if the answer is “nothing”, then expect nothing in return.
But that sort of writer is mercifully rare. Please do check out FFF, and if you haven’t already done so, try sending something in. It’s fantastically good for your writing technique, compelling you to make use of every word, to treat each one with reverence, and to learn the value of the unspoken extras to be found in the spaces between them. And it’s only 100 words, for goodness’ sake – what have you got to lose?