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Flash Fiction Tips with Will Kostakis

Flash fiction is all about concision, fitting the intrigue, emotion and impact of a full-length story into as few words as possible. Whether you are describing a magical land or providing an important snapshot of a personal memory, the key is immediacy, pulling out all the crucial themes and messages from a story and packing them into a tight word limit.

Will Kostakis, Guest Judge for our Flash Fiction Competition, argues that the power of flash fiction comes from its brevity, allowing the writer to instantly influence their readers. “Short form can be just as deep as longer writing”, he says. “A potent 99-word story can linger longer than most novels if you do it right. The trick is to make an impact.”

Read our interview with Will Kostakis for an insight into his writing career, and to gain valuable advice for writing your own piece of flash fiction!


You got an early start in the literary world, publishing a novel at age 19. When did you first start writing, and why?

I loved creative writing in primary school – I was happiest when I had a pen in my hand and a ludicrous story in my head. My teachers nurtured the drive I had, until in Year 7, I threw myself into writing my first book. It was terrible, but the one I wrote in Year 8 was a little better, and the one I wrote in Year 9, better still. I wrote because it made me happy, and I’m thrilled to say that’s why I still write.

What advice do you have for young writers who are starting to think about publishing and writing for a large audience?

My big piece of advice? Don’t think about a large audience! Lean into the stories that excite you, scare you, amuse you … If you write something that speaks to you, odds are, it’ll speak to others. And the more honest your story is, the more likely it is that it’s something that will connect to others. We are less unique than we really think.

You are predominantly a writer of novels. Can short form writing, such as flash fiction, adequately address the same themes, issues, and adventures as longer works of fiction?

Yes! Short form can be just as deep as longer writing, a potent 99-word story can linger longer than most novels if you do it right. The trick is to make an impact.

While you began your career writing realistic YA novels, you’ve recently started publishing fantasy works. Has it been a rewarding experience to branch out into a new genre?

It has. It was all about developing my box of tricks, learning new skills and developing others. I always say, give me two characters in the room with nothing to do, and I’ll make it the most interesting scene you’ve ever read, but if I have to write an action sequence, I really struggle. Monuments and Rebel Gods was about getting better at that … And also letting myself have fun with fiction writing again. I had a blast and I’ve returned to contemporary realism with so many more skills in my arsenal.

Is there a similar creative and explorative spirit that can be carried into any genre, including flash fiction?

Yes, I believe that changing up what you write every so often shocks you into improving. And you’re never too old to try new things and get even better.

What’s the best advice you could give writers tasked with writing a story in 99 words or less?

Capture a small moment in detail. Don’t try to tell us the history of the world in 99 words. Tell us about the walk to the corner shop, but tell that story in a way that tells a truth about the world. The smallest, most seemingly insignificant stories, can be powerful too.

About the judge: Will Kostakis is a writer of all things.  He’s best known for his award-winning YA novels, The First Third and The Sidekicks. Most recently, Will applied his trademark style to the fantasy genre, with Monuments and its sequel, Rebel Gods. 2023 sees the release of his next contemporary novel, We Could Be Something.


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