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The Splonk 5 – Janice Leagra

Janice Leagra

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with flash? Why it appeals and what frustrates you?

I became very serious about writing flash about five years ago. I’d read some pieces I loved in some online journals and thought, I need to try this. I love the immediacy of a flash done well. It can be subtle and leave you pondering it quietly afterwards, or it can hit you like a ton of bricks from its opener. In either case, I love how the best flash sticks with me long after I’ve read it and inspires me to do better with my own writing. That’s also where the frustration happens for me. There’s a misconception that flash is easy to write because it’s short, but it’s not. A flash fiction and its creator have to work hard for it to be successful.

In terms of construction/technique, how is flash fiction different, in your view, from other genres – in particular poetry (including prose poems) and the short story?

As I mentioned, flash fiction has to work hard to be successful. A short story offers a little bit of wiggle room for things to unfold. In flash, you must be much more discriminating about word choice and economy. There needs to be some arc or change, but there’s more room for experimentation with form. Poetry differs from both in that it can work with just an implied narrative and is conducive to many different forms.

Fundamentally, for you what makes a flash piece successful?

Engagement, precision, and surprise. It’s important to hook the reader from the outset. A strong opening sentence that plops you into the middle of the action is crucial. It should be smaller in scope than a short story and contain a bit of the unexpected to be memorable.

What flashers do you admire and why? Are there any specific pieces that you found compelling?

Ah, I am friends with too many flash fiction writers to name some and risk forgetting others and hurting their feelings. I will say, though, that I hold a great deal of respect and admiration for all of the writers who comprise the teams at Splonk and my own magazine, Janus Literary.

A few stories that have stuck with me for mastery of craft and/or overall impact:  

These three flash stories by Frankie McMillan, whose writing is always original: McMillan in Atticus.

This one by Fiona J. Mackintosh, whose writing is always engaging, with a strong voice: Mackintosh in Fictive Dream.

This story, The things taken, the things left behind’ by Jason Jackson, has been a favorite of mine since I first read it years ago. Jason is a master with dialogue and precision of language: Jackson in New Flash Fiction.

What flash piece of your own are you most proud of?  Where can we read it (if it’s available)?

I don’t think I have yet written the piece I am most proud of, but I am happy with the reception that my first published piece, ‘Milestones’, received. I’ll always be grateful to editor Cal Marcius at Spelk for seeing something of value in it and for giving it a home. You can still find it here.