National Flash Fiction Day

Nau mai haere mai

22 JUNE 2024 – National Flash Fiction Day

Kia ora and welcome to the 2024 celebration of flash fiction in Aotearoa New Zealand!

June 22 is our shortest day of the year — and the day we know and love as National Flash Fiction Day. Since 2012 we have been celebrating the small form with this big competition.

Information about the youth competition (through age 18) can be found at the journal fingers comma toes.

COMPETITION

The 2024 competition is open!

Go to the Competition page for more details.

Winners can be found here.

Last year’s winning stories with the judges’ report can be found here.

JUDGES

The 2024 judges are the award-winning writers Lynn Jenner and Rachel O’Neill.
See the Competition page for more about the judges and submission guidelines.

Previous Judges

2012 Graeme Lay, Tina Shaw, Stephen Stratford
2013 David Lyndon Brown, Vivienne Plumb
2014 Mary McCallum, Frankie McMillan
2015 Fiona Kidman, Owen Marshall
2016 James Norcliffe, Elizabeth Smither
2017 Michael Harlow, Emma Neale
2018 Tracey Slaughter, Sue Wootton
2019 Siobhan Harvey, Lloyd Jones
2020 Sandra Arnold, Helen Heath
2021 Diane Brown, Paula Morris
2022 Anne Kennedy, Kiri Piahana-Wong
2023 Airini Beautrais, David Eggleton

MICRO MADNESS

The international Micro Madness series, featuring stories up to 100 words, runs every year June 1-22.

Submissions open in April. Watch for updates in March.

Micro Madness stories and winners can be found here.

Events

Watch for more about local events, including workshops, writing opportunities and celebrations in a place near you on June 22.

Festival of Flash

An online international celebration featuring panels, readings, books and more.

Festival videos can be found here. News of the 2024 Festival of Flash will be shared soon!

HEAR THE 2023 WINNER

2023 NFFD winner Margaret Moores speaks to Jesse Mulligan about flash fiction and her winning story, with a reading of ‘Moon Landing’.

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Michelle Elvy
James Norcliffe
Vaughan Rapatahana
Tina Shaw
Tracey Slaughter
Constance Talbot
Lola Elvy

What is Flash Fiction?

Short on words but long on depth, flash fiction stings like good poetry. Punchy, succinct and surprising, the best flash stories shift the reader’s heart but they also keep it beating hard.

Nuala Ni Chonchuir

There’s hardly any form  that offers so much fun among so many challenges and at the same time teaches you so much about life.

Elizabeth Smither

Writing flash fiction is like riding a wobbly unicycle between suggestion and explanation, between innuendo and a slap in the face, between compression and deflation, between rabbit and hat, between poetry and prose. Writing it successfully, is negotiating a tiny circuit without falling off.

James Norcliffe

A good flash piece is a tickle, a pinch or a slap, and leaves the mind tingling.  Poetry can do that too, but more through surprising use of words, than through plot or an unseen ending.

P S Cottier 

The best stories are those where the reader is made immediately but implicitly aware that something else is going on here. These stories are artful, but so well crafted, so cleverly understated, that the reader becomes irresistibly engaged with the story.

Graeme Lay

Flash fiction – a rooster running this way and that, his red comb lighting small fires in the woods.

Frankie McMillan

On the radio

National Flash Fiction Day celebrates a new decade

Interview with Lynn Freeman, 19 June 2022

Michelle Elvy and Vaughan Rapatahana speak with Lynn Freeman on Standing Room Only about the ten-year anniversary of NFFD and plans to celebrate Languages of Aotearoa. Tune in here.

National Flash Fiction Day

Hear the three top entries from the inaugural National Flash Fiction Day - stories told in just 300 words.

From the Archives: National Flash Fiction Day organisers discuss flash fiction in general and the founding of NFFD on Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday programme.

All about Flash

Flash fiction – a story in a few hundred words – means taking story bones from an author and fleshing them in the mind of a reader. The author has barely enough words to push a character through a doorway, so the reader must choose between blonde or dark, and add the buttons and pearls. In this way, flash fiction may be the most intimate of the prose forms, since the reader often contributes as much, via imagination and interpretation, as the author. The best flash fiction tells its story in the fewest possible words, which melt away during reading to leave nothing more than a haunted moment, sharp and deep as a memory.

T. Upchurch 

Flash fiction is about finding the keys to a much larger story, and using them to tell it in 360 degrees, high-def, technicolour 3D, without going all the way to the end of the page. It’s about immersing your reader in a moment and making all of their nerve fibres tingle. It’s about moving one small stone and causing an avalanche.

Calum Kerr

If flash were a gun, it would be the SwissMiniGun, the smallest gun ever. But it would still shoot bullets at 270mph and command respect for tiny weapons. If flash were a painting, it would be Picasso’s Three Musicians. At first you’d think it was all there in its one collage square, but the more you stare at it, the more you see it begin to vibrate with song and a dog’s wagging tail. If flash were a song, it would be Crowded House’s ‘Four Seasons in One Day’. If flash were someone I knew, it would be my friend Velvet. She describes herself as ‘remarkably, fantastically short’. Flash is fast, but it’s not fast food. It might have taken years to perfect, like a sauce that reduces to a rich, viscous demi-glace. Flash is whisky in a shot glass. Flash is an adult fly. Flash is this moment right now.

Christopher Allen

Flash fiction is to traditional short stories what lightning is to a storm… Thunder, rain, sleet, wind and lightning are all part of the excitement of a full blown nor’easter or afternoon thunderstorm. The rush of hard rain opens our eyes; it’s steady drum on the roof soothes us until that first roll of thunder raises our pulse; lightning makes us anticipate and 1 2 3 count. Then rain again and we wait for another loud crack, more electrical fireworks, the clouds to clear, the skies to blue. A good storm is filled with promise, surprise, fear, suspense, relief, joy, and sometimes sadness. So is a good story.

Gay Degani

The best stories are those where the reader is made immediately but implicitly aware that something else is going on here. These stories are artful, but so well crafted, so cleverly understated, that the reader becomes irresistibly engaged with the story.

Graeme Lay

Flash fiction – a rooster running this way and that, his red comb lighting small fires in the woods.

Frankie McMillan

Where short stories leave a lot to the reader’s imagination, flash fiction demands the reader fill in almost everything, and the best flash fiction strikes that note perfectly, giving you just enough to conjour up these worlds from only a page-full of words, or often less. There is alchemy at work here, each word, each space, each comma carries a burden, must be placed just so. And when they are, in a great flash story, you gasp, you are left reeling. And you are left shifted, altered. I cannot forget fantastic flash fiction. I don’t want to.

Tania Hershman

Writing flash fiction is like riding a wobbly unicycle between suggestion and explanation, between innuendo and a slap in the face, between compression and deflation, between rabbit and hat, between poetry and prose. Writing it successfully, is negotiating a tiny circuit without falling off.

James Norcliffe

Here’s to flash fiction and all its bold, nervy, language-besotted practitioners. Here’s to creating multiverses in the heart of an atom. Here’s to soaring takeoffs and crash landings. Here’s to beautiful, glorious flash fiction that is its own unique form. May we continue to innovate and experiment and upend. May we aspire always to be the teenaged rebels of the literary canon.

Kathy Fish

There’s hardly any form  that offers so much fun among so many challenges and at the same time teaches you so much about life.

Elizabeth Smither

Short on words but long on depth, flash fiction stings like good poetry. Punchy, succinct and surprising, the best flash stories shift the reader’s heart but they also keep it beating hard.

Nuala Ni Chonchuir

Flash fiction is defined as a story between six and 1,000 words. It is a protean form which illuminates a moment or a series of moments. Sometimes dismissed by critics as the passing fad of a generation whose short attention span cannot cope with reading a whole novel, this view does not take into account the deceptively complex nature of flash. Because of its brevity, each word must carry its own weight in meaning and allusion. The boundaries between prose poetry and flash fiction are sometimes blurred. However, while flash may utilise the semantics, suggestion, rhythm and elliptical leaps of prose poetry, it needs a narrative arc to place it within the realm of fiction.

Sandra Arnold

To say that a flash must contain all the literary elements that a longer story does – plot, setting, character, conflict, narration – would be argued against by the proponents of experimental flash who lean more toward slice-of-life sketches. In the end, a flash is simply a story in miniature, a work of art carved on a grain of rice – something of import to the artist or writer that is confined and reduced, either by design or outcome, into a small square space using the structural devices of prose line and paragraph form with the purpose of creating an intense, emotional impact… The short short story has a long, rich history, and many countries and writers share in its evolution. It has survived many social and technological changes, perhaps finding a renewed audience because of its almost adrenaline-inducing ability to capture, in its fragmented brevity, life and some essential truth.

Tara L. Masih

I love the challenge of flash fiction: how it occupies an aesthetic distinct from, say, the space of the conventional short story, or indeed the conventional poem (whatever that is!). And of course, the concise space of flash fiction accords with its distillation of plot, character, cadence and imagery. In flash fiction and its succinctness is a ripeness which bursts open in the reader’s mind.

Siobhan Harvey

Flash fiction is punk rock in 1977. Loud, fast, manic; three chords and the truth you’re in the mood to scream. Flash fiction is jumping out of an airplane with a parachute you made yourself even though you didn’t even look up ‘How To Sew A Parachute’ on YouTube. Flash fiction is going to a zoo and letting all the animals out and feeling good about it until you remember you’re an animal too and now some of them are chasing you through the street. As you run, you laugh and sob and try and remember why before they catch you and crunch your supposedly normal bones, guts — most sweet, your human memories.

Bud Smith

People are forever trying to find analogies for flash fiction: it’s like lightning, fireworks, dynamite, a bonsai tree; it’s like opening champagne, striking oil, unearthing a truffle, riding a unicycle across a tightrope strung over a canyon… We used to look forward to a time when people might stop trying. But the analogies say something about the form: it’s un-pin-downable, and is all the better for being so.

Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler

I think flash’s popularity comes from the paradox of how such a miniature form can still release such potent effects. I often want to use the metaphor of a soup stock cube, or perhaps a tequila shot. Small but intense; compact but strong. It becomes addictive trying to master the kind of precision and tight pacing you need for a successful piece of flash fiction: maybe another metaphor is that it’s the parkour cat-jump of literature. And, as with other literary forms, the best examples of flash fiction deserve reading and re-reading – much the way we can re-listen to a favourite song – either because we find something new in it each time, or because nothing else can quite replicate or capture the experience it renders.

Emma Neale

A good flash piece is a tickle, a pinch or a slap, and leaves the mind tingling.  Poetry can do that too, but more through surprising use of words, than through plot or an unseen ending.

P S Cottier 

I find, in flash fiction, a glorious paradox: a form that is physically compressed yet endlessly expansive.  Allusion, subtext, telling details, what thrives along the margins/between the lines — the resonance after the last bow pass on a cello — what is said/unsaid, what is at stake, brief, but potent.  Terra Incognita.  Whole worlds to be explored with a few well-placed footfalls.  Where even silence, if you listen, can be heard, with all the wing-beats, noisy winds, and implications that dwell within it.

Robert Scotellaro