A Flash (Fiction) in the Pan


Dear Mr. Pow,

We very much enjoyed your flash fiction submission and feel it work well in our February issue entitled “February Flash Fiction Fiesta”.  However, we felt it ran a bit long.  Please trim it a bit and resubmit it to us.

Best Regards,

Adolfo A. Adolphus, Fiction Editor

Artsy Fartsy Lit Journal
123 Main Street
New York, NY (just south of upstate NY)

Dear Adolfo,
I apologize for being overly-familiar by calling you by your first name, but I have gotten very gun-shy about using honorifics after the incident with Charlie Frankie Kennedy at Snooty Patootie Literary Journal.

I am a little surprised that you think my flash fiction piece is on the long side since it is only one paragraph long.  However, I am desperate to be published so I have edited it a bit and gotten it down to half a paragraph.  Please let me know what you think.

Biff S. Pow
Starving Writer

Dear Pow,

The edit to your flash fiction piece is definitely a step in the right direction.  Your prose is much tighter now.  We like how you build tension in the first 3 sentences, have a very compelling climax in the 4th sentence, and a satisfactory denouement in the 5th sentence.

However, we felt you spent too much time developing the main character (Beatrice) and should just let the dialog reveal her true character.  As they say, “show, don’t tell.”  Or, in this case, “Say, don’t do.”

Best Regards,

Adolfo, Fi-Ed

Dear Adolfo,

I took your advice and removed all unnecessary action from my flash fiction piece.  This has allowed me to reduce the sentence count from five to three through the clever use of semicolons and hyphenation and, of course, ellipses.

I removed the reference to Beatrice’s antagonist and love interest.  He is now more of an insinuation than an actual character.  He is represented by the third use of the word “the” in the second sentence.

I hope all this helps.  If not, just let me know.

B.S. Pow

Dear B.,

Your flash fiction piece is much better now.  It is compact and powerful, like one of those capsules that you put in water and it swells up into  much larger and soggier dolphin or something.

However, we have run into a bit of a space constraint and was hoping you could trim it just a bit more.  We feel Beatrice’s monologue is a bit bombastic and wordy and makes her come across as kind of a demagogue.  Perhaps you could tone down her rhetoric a bit.  Just a suggestion.


Dear A,

Your letter inspired me to take up my re-write pen and to tighten up my prose a bit.  It was necessary to remove Beatrice altogether since she required far too much exposition.  And, without her, her dialog became superfluous, not to mention disembodied.

I think you will find that the sentence that remains is a fine example of very tight writing.  The second use of the word “the” (not the 3rd one, which had to be excised) is a metaphor for a sort of unexpressed yearning for something that should exist, but doesn’t.  And if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

Anxiously awaiting your comments,



Some of our editorial board were openly weeping at the beauty of your flash fiction and how magnificently taut, crisp, and curt it is.

One more little edit, and we are there.  Could you please consider removing everything after the second ellipsis?  We feel the use of a verb in this context dilutes what you are trying to do with the preposition in the first part of the sentence.


Dear A,

I am submitting to you the remaining word of my flash fiction piece.  I’m sure you will agree with me that, of all the words that my piece originally contained, this one is the most powerful and evocative.

And, to my knowledge, the word “janky” has never been used in this context before,


Dear Mr. Pow,

After further consideration, we regret to inform you that we feel your flash fiction piece, “Janky” does not fit our editorial needs at this time.

We hope you continue writing and look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

Adolfo A. Adolphus, Fiction Editor

Artsy Fartsy Lit Journal
123 Main Street
New York, NY (just south of upstate NY)


  1. Ah, you’re so brilliant! This reminds me of the time I submitted a piece to a lit mag and they said they wanted to publish it, but without the last paragraph. I was like, “You want me to remove the ending?!” We compromised and…the last paragraph stayed:-)


    • Ha ha! Janky is a very useful and descriptive word. The first time I heard a young person use it, I immediately appropriated it for my own vocabulary. I just don’t get an opportunity to use it very often.

      And performing an excision is not for the faint of heart. Did you see the movie, “The Excisist?”

      Liked by 1 person

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