Post 2 of 4.
Flash fiction is an interesting genre. It does everything a short story does (such as offer a situation, a problem, a climax, then some sort of resolution) but in a fraction of the space. It’s a genre that seems to have recently been given a lot more attention. As a reader, it might be one of my favorite fiction genres. The stories are too short to not read just one more, and they oftentimes are just as good as full length pieces (read the short pieces in Amy Hempel’s Collected Short Stories and you’ll see what I mean).
The online magazine in which my story “Fireflies” was originally published, Rumble, is devoted specifically to flash fiction and poetry. Tiny writing, essentially. The thing with web journals is that it allows them to be more creative, to take more risks. There’s room for experimentation. From a writer’s standpoint, there’s something less intimidating to submitting work through an e-mail or an electronic forum then there is with mail submissions.
They’re certainly a lot of benefits to web journals. One being that it saves paper, which as Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and everyone else knows is a really good thing. The other benefit is that (in most cases) online journals are free. And we are, after all, in the business of sharing our art. As much as I would like to subscribe to my favorite dozen print journals and have a stack next to my toilet, that’s not going to happen any time soon. And a lot of the journals online are solid, too. I have a few saved in my browser bookmarks which I check regularly. Also, the internet is a much more accessible place than a print journal. Exposure is so important, especially with emerging writers, and the internet offers a bigger chance for that. People are more likely to stumble upon something. I think more and more people are looking online for a good story or poem.
Jacques Rancourt is a Michael D. Wilson research scholar at the University of Maine at Farmington and a contributor to the recently released Best of the Web 2008 anthology (Dzanc Books). He’s currently writing about a recent trek on the 100-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. He is one of several authors guest-blogging today in support of the Best of the Web 2008 anthology.