Picture Books

I’ve been thinking about these more often. I have some short flash fiction pieces and some poetry that I’ve thought could be good picture books lately.

Isn’t that funny how you can write for one audience, then transform it into a different one?

The flash fiction piece could go either way, adult or children’s, and I’m considering trying to spin both and see what I can do with it. The poem I was challenged at my writer group yesterday to make it unrhyming, and I realized it could also make a good picture book with that kind of rewrite.

Some of these seem to be overlapping forms. It’s neat to see where the words lead me.

Flash Fiction

How many words do you need to tell a story? Flash Fiction sets the bar higher (or lower in the case of word count) than any other type of story.

There are so many categories of stories that have nothing to do with genre: flash fiction, short story, novelette, novella, novel, and I’m sure I don’t have them all. Vignettes and povels, while related, give me the impression of having their own categories.

Flash Fiction is a favorite of mine, partly because the challenge of the word count is what makes or breaks the piece. It may be shorter than any other story you’ve encountered, but it still requires a beginning, middle and end. It’s a great exercise in how to make every single word count.

The downside is sometimes words have to count for too much. Such short pieces rely heavily on the reader to fill in some of the blanks. While I like it, flash fiction can get the reader to author to forget what’s needed in longer stories to make them shine. Balance is always needed.

The shortest story I’ve ever heard of? Ernest Hemingway’s 6 word ditty: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

I’m no Hemingway (I think everyone knew that) and I’ve never written anything nearly that short. My shortest to date is 55 words, and an example is below.

Dirty Little Secret

“I have a friend you’d adore, Mara.”


“What’s wrong with one date?”

Mara remembered a tall man with blue eyes. Staring across the table at his wife’s ring, she smiled. She preferred her friends to think her picky than to know she loved someone she couldn’t have. “I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

If you’re curious about more examples of 55 word stories, check out this magazine.

The cutoff for flash fiction is about 1000 words, which leaves a lot of room between the extremes. Happy Writing.