I've been thinking about Laura Ellen Scott's class, for whom this (excellent, you should read it) blog is intended. I think this is because I remember being 22 and knowing the fun was about to end and not realizing that applying for MFA programs wasn't the antidote and JUST TRYING SO HARD TO DO EVERYTHING RIGHT but not realizing that's not how it works in the Land of Grownups sometimes.
22 year old me would have either been scared to death or irritated by flash fiction, and never would have realized (clearly, I sucked at realizing then) the foundation for flash was already there.
Where? Music videos. They're self-contained works of art. And they're usually three or four minutes long.
Let's take a look at the Video Music Award winners from the year I was a senior in college -- 1992. It wasn't even a particularly good year for music videos, but there are some worth mentioning.
The video of the year was Van Halen's "Right Now." It's all about playing with form. There's no traditional plot -- the language and the visuals carry the day.
Another video that did well at the VMAs that year was the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge." No traditional plot here, either -- as the literal version points out.
Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" won Best Alternative Video. Video link here, because I couldn't find an embeddable version. Band plays...kids mosh...janitor dances...so what happens, exactly? And yet, it works. It's beautiful, in its own way and on its own terms. It's immediately recognizable, and it's memorable. You could do worse than to emulate it.
The only conventional plot-driven video in the VMA bunch that year was Guns N'Roses "November Rain." It won for Best Cinematography. It's over nine minutes long, which is flat out cheating. The only parts I ever remember are Slash's solo at about the four minute mark, and the wedding cake getting wiped out at 6:59. You never do find out what actually happened to Stephanie Seymour, which is the first thing someone would point out in workshop. The next comment would be "It ends with a little man getting rained on, and it's called November Rain? Really?"
1992 also gave us a video that, 17 years later, has emerged as a true classic. Flash fiction writers, take note: