Book Cover: 'Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction" edited by Tara L. Masih

With its unprecedented gathering of 25 brief essays by experts in the field, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction meets the growing need for a concise yet creative exploration of the reemerging genre popularly known as flash fiction. As they share their personal beliefs as to what exactly this hybrid genre consists of, and what it is defined by, the essayists also provide insight into their writing habits, philosophies, inspirations, and teaching methods, along with tips for editing and improving flash stories. Original and well-tested exercises or prompts accompany each piece, followed by a story example for further study. As an added feature, the book's introduction provides, for the first time, a comprehensive history of the short short story, from its early roots and appearances to its current state. This guide is a must for anyone in the field of short fiction who teaches, writes, and is interested in the genre’s genesis and practice.

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

A 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year

A Pen Central recommended book for fiction writers, 2016

Small Press Distributions Decade Bestseller List (20102020)

A New & Noteworthy Book, May 2009

Recommended nonfiction book, Poets & Writers Summer 2009 reading list

An Top-100 literary reference book

Fiction Writers Review Favorite Anthology for 2009

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

Steve Almond • Rusty Barnes • Randall Brown • Mark Budman • Stace Budzko • Robert Olen Butler • Ron Carlson • Pamelyn Casto • Kim Chinquee •
Stuart Dybek • Pia Z. Ehrhardt • Sherrie Flick • Vanessa Gebbie • Tom Hazuka • Nathan Leslie • Michael Martone • Julio Ortega • Pamela Painter •
Jayne Anne Phillips • Jennifer Pieroni • Shouhua Qi • Bruce Holland Rogers • Robert Shapard • Deb Olin Unferth • Lex Williford

Praise for Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

“Accessible enough for pleasure reading but instructive enough for the classroom. . . . Editor and fiction writer Masih provides a remarkably thorough history of flash fiction. . . .An expansive list of further reading rounds out this smart, fun, provocative guide to an increasingly popular form.”
Publishers Weekly online, 8/17/09 (read the full review here)


“[This book] accomplishes what both editor and publisher desired. . . . All writers of flash fiction—not just those interested in trying out the form—should own this book.”
—Amy Wallen, WriteStuff review in The Writer, December 2009


There are many writing guides brought in on the wave of creative writing courses steadily multiplying across the globe. There are good ones and bad ones: the Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is definitely a good one; I would even say a very good one. It doesn't promise unparalleled success or anything else it can't deliver, but does provide real insight into how writers work in this medium doing by exactly what it says on the cover — providing guidance that gently leads the would-be flash writer along the path to making their own work truly shine.
Collectively, the twenty-five essays contained here explore the different facets of writing good flash fiction and such a prismatic approach reveals much of the art to writing the very best of them. The authors . . . are all actively engaged in the form as either writers, teachers or editors — some in all three — and precisely because of this experience, they don't mess around but go straight to the heart of what they want to say. Each focuses on an aspect of either writing, teaching or editing flash fiction and, as forceful advocates of the form, what they convey is frequently eloquent, often illuminating, always passionate.
Jacky Taylor, How Publishing Really Works (read the full review here)


Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is destined to be a best seller. It's a valuable resource not only for writers and teachers of creative writing, but for readers who want to deepen their understanding of this popular form. For a writer who’s never written flash, but who has thought it might be something he’d like to try (e.g., a poet who is thinking of making a leap to writing fiction) this is a must read.”
— Miriam N. Kotzin, Per Contra: The International Journal of Arts, Literature and Ideas (read the full review here)


“Arnold Schoenberg, the inventor of the twelve-tone musical system, told his students, Don't compose in my method. Learn my method and then just compose. The contributors to the Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction . . . seem to have the same attitude. They want to hit writers with new ideas, like little meteors striking earth, and see what unique sparks fly. Instead of formulae, they offer perspectives, exercises, and strategies to help new and experienced writers address the unique problems of the short-short form.
“You couldn't ask for better contributors. . . . Masih herself contributes a thorough and thoughtful 28-page introduction (about four times longer than the average essay) that describes the history of the short-short story; it's well worth the time.”
—Jake Freivald, Flash Fiction Online, September 2009


“This book is an Aladdin’s cave of gems, a brilliantly versatile guide to invigorate any written piece, any writer’s working life. Flash fiction is the impetus for all these essays, and the fantastic prompts and exercises that each includes, yet most of the commentary and advice can be applied to stimulate and aid any creative writer. . . . A true ‘field guide’ in spirit, I came away thoroughly more equipped to teach and write short fiction in a richer, more illuminating way. . . . It is a testament to the book’s impact that I am using it as a set text for my creative writing classes next year. . . .”
—Sophie Powell, Fiction Writers Review (read the full review here)


“This short (of course!) 157-page handbook gives beginning writers of flash fiction a place to start and continuing flashers a much-needed resource. . . . As for the essays, they offer insights into the art and craft as well the process of producing flash. . . . A useful, intelligent addition to the discussion of flash fiction, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction manages to give readers what they want to know about flash fiction without limiting the genre with ‘strict definitions.’”
—Gay Degani, Flash Fiction Chronicles 


“Informative, whimsical, moving, educational, riveting. How much did I enjoy this excerpt [from Goodreads]? How strongly was I hooked by the excerpt from the Introduction? So much so that I immediately went to the book’s Goodreads page and marked it as one “To Read,” that's how much.”
Novelist Roy L. Pickering Jr., Patches of Grey


“For the beginner, the book is a tremendous resource offering various glosses and overviews of the short short’s history and widely divergent definitions of this resurgent genre. . . . While this field guide certainly flashes, it also illuminates.”
—John Madera, NewPages Book Review (read the full review here)


“In response to the dearth of writings about the shortest of shorts, Tara Lynn Masih fills the void with The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. . . . Masih’s field guide, foremost an act of legitimization, embraces the exciting contradiction of short shorts—finite yet limitless, a trifle essential to contemporary fiction. Even snobbish connoisseurs seldom resist a meal composed of hors d’oeuvres.”
—Joshua Garstka, Redivider, online January 5, 2010


The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction is the best of its kind. For both beginner and advanced practitioners of this hot and wildly popular genre, the Field Guide offers tons of practical advice, hands-on exercises, and intriguing histories of the form.”
—Tara McDaniel, Gently Read Literature  (read the full review here)


“Thanks to Rose Metal Press, who published the Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (2009), I had access to a 38-page mini-history of flash fiction from around the world. This introduction, written by Tara L. Masih, is one of the most engaging, specific introductions to a book I have ever read. I have a hard time not crossing my eyes when someone starts “talking history” but the combo of her succinct thoroughness and my own love of flash, has convinced me Masih’s intro is the best source around for the history of the genre.”
—Katey Schultz, Cheek Teeth Blog, March 12, 2011


“A thoughtful and thought-provoking resource, casting fresh light on the practice of flash fiction. Each essay is a gem, encrusted with outstanding prompts and valuable exercises. Anyone who hopes to write (or teach) the very short fiction form needs to read this book.”
—Dinty W. Moore, editor of The MAMMOTH Book of Miniscule Fiction


“The Field Guide to Flash Fiction is an exhaustive, thoughtful, idea-producing guide to one of the lesser-known forms of literary expression, the short short story. I can't imagine that there's anything left out of this remarkable anthology of essays about flash fiction. It should prompt the neophyte and the veteran writer to get busy and try one of these difficult stories.”
—Anne Bernays, coauthor of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers


“As professors of English, we find the Field Guide invaluable. The essays are cogent, clear, and short to the point. Students wishing to practice creative fiction are provided with tools, theory, and inspiration throughout each step of the composition process. Writers reading about literature and then reading the literature itself will discover how effectively the Field Guide presents concepts as it eschews academic jargon in favor of a hands-on approach.”
—Jon Redfern and Jack David, editors of Short Short Stories