We’ve talked about how poetry helps your professional writing skills, but what about flash fiction and advertising? My favorite flash fiction of all time is attributed to Ernest Hemingway:
I noticed that just like the punch line of a commercial, my sister and I reference this flash fiction a lot. (Although it usually sets off a round of tears rather than the chuckles that result from a funny commercial.) And as I was browsing through ads online, I realized that many advertisements reach for the same achievements that flash fiction does: They tell a story that makes you laugh or cry or just think—in as few words as possible. (Remember how much we all cried at last year’s Superbowl commercial with Budweiser’s horses and the yellow-lab puppy?)
Here’s another favorite:
In 15 words, I’m reminded of the suddenness of death and the importance of reconciling with loved ones. Just like in 30 seconds, a car commercial can make me think of how society is crumbling into relativism, even in sports. (Okay, maybe that’s too cynical. But you catch my drift)
So really, advertising is often just flash fiction with a product attached to the end. (Think: Many of the commercials we love don’t even include the product until the end (e.g., Monster’s first Superbowl ad).) It’s about subtlety, brevity, and the ability to sum up the heart of an issue in a matter of seconds.
If you want to see examples of unintentional flash fiction, check out PostSecret. The concept has incredible thrust. (Fair warning: This site is rated PG13.)