What is flash fiction? Wikipedia claims it's a short story of 1000 - 2000 words. In comparison: A short story tends to have between 2000 and 20.000 words.
Nevertheless, flash fiction stories have all the elements a classical short story has, like a protagonist, a conflict, complications and a solution (or twist or punchline).
Thanks to Locus (my go-to magazine for reviews) I stumbled upon a review for the september issue of Flash Fiction Online.
I want to highlight two of the stories and the essay at the end, which I also very much liked.
After some of the stories, a short interview with the author is printed (I bought the ebook as well).
Sylvia Heike: Quantum Love
"The Quantum computer is and isn't in love."
With Natalie, by the way.
The Quantum computer's name is Queenie. Nathalie has given this name to it.
The perspective is interesting, because it stays very close to Queenie and it's very "quantum" view of the world.
There are things that go over its head and other things that it understands very adequately. For example Gil. Who might also be in love with Nathalie. And Nathalie's situation with her husband. And kids. And stuff.
There are some major differences between Queenie's acting towards Nathalie and Nathalie's benefit and what most humans might do - and therefore the protagonist of this story might be more human than a human protagonist might have been.
The author is from Europe, Finland.
William Hawkins: Grandma's Sex Robot
The title has me, but also the first sentence: "Grandma calls her sex robot Sony. We try to explain it's just the company who makes it."
The text has a lot of humor, but it's at least knee-deep about mourning. It's extremely good and it's almost unbelievable that it's so short and has such an effect on people. Since I read the story yesterday, I have shown it to four different people and everybody just loves it.
There are many tiny things hidden in the text. Like it's okay to have sex, have a sex robot, like your sex robot and use your sex robot.
I love the details like "Grandma [...] smells like roasted pecans".
But the story really gets going after Grandma's death.
"The sex robot continues as if Grandma is there. At night, it sleeps on the left side of her bed, until we have her bed removed; then it sleeps on the floor where the left side of the bed used to be."
Jawziya F. Zaman: Tips on Surviving the Slush Pile
Although these are tips for Flash Fiction, which has a narrower scope than most short stories, most of the tips are true for most magazines.
As I have done some work (choosing and editing short stories) in a handful of occasions, I can only nod heavily for most of the tips:
Jawziya states that you should read a couple of issues of the magazine before handing in a story. This seems to be a natural thing to do, but I know it's often not. Some magazines receives many more stories than subscriptions.
I never heard of the wording, but I like it immediatley "De-purple your prose". It means go for the key elements like plot and characters and don't spend too much time on flowery language.
Don't do boring style, like only one short sentence after another. I'd add that you should avoid repeating the same words over and over again.
Avoid tired tropes. (Oh, this is so true for Science Fiction from Germany, I am sorry to say!)
Avoid long introductions (sometimes the whole story seems to be an introduction so something).
Leave your politics at home! From my personal opinion, if it's only about your opinion, write an essay. Not a short story.
There is more, one thing I'd like to mention that Jawziya has put as a rule and that I particularly like: "Ask yourself why anyone but you should care about your story".
It's easier said than done, I know, but really, mostly that's the reason why I reject stories or do not read them to the end or do not review them and forget them right after reading. There's nothing to hold on to.