Start, of course, from the premise that in flash you’re only going to sketch out a character, location, time period. You must eliminate all the “decoration” and description that embellishes a short story. Can you do it?
I believe flash is easier because I’ve written short pieces for the past half dozen years. And, I come at it from a journalism background and newspaper experience. A newsie is expected to sit down (at a battered Royal, if necessary) and bang out a 30-word lede that tells the reads all the who, what, when, here and why he/she needs. (The “how” comes a few paragraphs later.)
For years, I also dedicated 30 minutes a week to a chatroom on www.Wordtrip.com called Flash Fiction Friday. A given phrase challenged any and all to write a story — long as you wanted, but taking only 30 minutes to write. Bam! Then, I’d edit it, spell check, and post it.
Going back to Wordtrip today, I was surprised to find I’d drafted 35 stories, some of them running just over 1,000 words. (You can see the original drafts at the site and my contributions as “Timberline.”) Of those 35, 30 have been published. Roughly half came in at under a thousand words.
Are they good stories? Yes. Are they literature for all times? No, often they’re genre pieces with a revelation (punch line) conclusion. Come to think of it, they’re the kind of fiction O. Henry wrote with his eye on a deadline. But you tell me. Here are the links to four of the pieces:
> “Abandoned” was published by Every Day Fiction Sept. 3, 2012 at http://www.everydayfiction.com/abandoned-by-walt-giersbach/.
>“Queen at the End of the Bar” was published by Gumshoe Review on Sept. 1, 2011, at http://www.gumshoereview.com/php/Review-id.php?id=2915.
>“Million Dollar Find” was published by r.kv.r.y. quarterly June 30, 2011, at http://www.rkvryquarterly.com/?p=81
Try the 30-minute writing exercise. At worst, you have a crappy piece of fiction. At best, you're learned to cut through the clutter and get to the essentials of telling a story. Story prompts for fast fiction. Calisthenics for the brain.