Book Review: Field Guide to Writing Flash Non-Fiction

I’ve long been intrigued by flash fiction — shorter pieces of writing that utilize inference and character to drive home an idea or a story in a short amount of time and brevity of words. Mostly, though, I have thought about it terms of fiction. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Non-Fiction, edited by Dinty W. Moore, is a perfect introduction to the approaches that a writer might take when considering flash non-fiction — writing about the real but in a creative vein.

The book is a series of chapters in which published authors talk about the craft of flash non-fiction, and its place in the field of writing and reading. Topics range from image and detail, to finding your voice, to the use of language, to the concept of discovering a structure for your narrative. Each chapter has a short introduction, followed by not only a demonstrative piece of flash non-fiction but also some ways that the reader might “try out” some strategies.

It’s this part that intrigues me as a teacher, and a writer, and I appreciated those three components — overview, sample, suggestions — coming together in this collection. This field guide opened my eyes to some interesting possibilities for writing non-fiction in shorter bursts, but still making those pieces meaningful, insightful and worth reading. And I would be not be truthful if I am not making connections in my mind from this collection to the Common Core’s push towards more non-fiction reading and writing, in the content areas. In some ways, flash fiction is a natural fit for teaching about non-fiction writing. Students would not get overwhelmed by the length of the assignments, and yet, they would be learning about how to notice the world, use critical thinking and convey important messages about their topics.

I have explored this idea of shortened forms of writing before and continue to be intrigued by the possibilities.

Peace (in the small but powerful writing moments),

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