top of page

3 Things I Love about Story Dice & Flash Fiction

dice beads that spell game
Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

A couple of years ago, I rolled my first set of story dice and made myself write a flash fiction piece based on the graphics shown. It started out to create a different type of post on social media for marketing, but I quickly learned that it had other benefits.

If you didn’t already know, flash fiction is usually anything between 500-750 words. Sometimes you’ll see publications ask for a piece less than a 1,000 words. Many consider pieces that are less than 500 words as micro-fiction. Short stories are 1,000 - 5,000 words. It’s a bit of a toss-up because word counts in writing don’t really have a set standard.

Personally, I prefer to write flash fiction. Despite being categorized as a short story, I have firsthand knowledge that it is significantly more intricate. Short stories have structures like any novel, so there is more effort needed there. Flash fiction does not have those same restrictions. The point of flash fiction is to make quick work of emotions like joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger. That is a simplified explanation and needs to be a different blog post.

That being said, here are my three favorite reasons for taking on the challenge of flash fiction using the prompt of story dice.

It forced me to use my imagination in other ways.

Because of the limited graphics on the dice, it is necessary to stretch the imagination. I use Rory’s Story Cubes (I have the Original, Action, and Voyages sets, and I am convinced I need more) when I want to roll something physical and this website when I’m not. One nice thing about the basic graphics is that they allow for interpretation in any number of ways. For example, on one dice, is a picture of a pyramid. That graphic could be a pyramid, a prism, or a portal stone into another dimension. Those are just the three things I’ve come up with on a whim. That is the beauty of the graphics. It’s up to the roller’s imagination what it could represent!

I would advise that if you want to pick up the Story Cubes to not use over nine at any one time. Anything more than that and the possibility of forgetting something become likely. That much information is overwhelming to the mind and you cannot incorporate all the graphics into the story. The idea behind story dice is to challenge your imagination to use all the images.

It tightened up my writing.

The limit on word count strengthens your writing muscles. When word count limits how and what you describe, it makes you dig deep to find that perfect way to engage the senses without overusing words. I’m a fantasy author. I deeply appreciate prose, but its value depends on the context. If you’ve ever read Lord of the Rings, then you know what I’m talking about. Going on for twenty pages about a tree is a hard pass for readers today. Writing flash fiction pushed me to find creative ways of engaging the senses while still keeping my writing concise. This is a tremendous benefit to me for several reasons; one being I have less to edit later 🤭, but the main reason is that I have no desire to be a writer like Sanderson or Jordan.

It honed my writing skills.

Because of the limited word count, I can write more. They say, “practice makes perfect.” I think practice lends to progress. When I was in college, I took a music theory class; and if you’ve ever had to study music theory, you have my sympathy. The professor for that class constantly assigned homework. It was exhausting, but it taught me an important lesson. The more I studied on how to rearrange chords, the faster and more smoothly it came to me.

It is only possible to get better at something if it’s practiced, and this applies to writing as well. Flash fiction is a bridge for writers to build writing muscles. It doesn’t take long to write a first draft of a flash fiction piece. In fact, it is possible to write, edit, and publish a flash fiction piece all in one day, possibly even more if you’re feeling especially energetic. Personally, I like to take breaks in between each step to help me think clearer, but in theory, it is possible to complete all three steps in two hours. Jocko Willink said, “The more you practice, the better you get; the more freedom you have to create.”

What are your thoughts on flash fiction? Do you like it? Love the freedom of it or do you feel it is too much of a restriction?

Until next time, Fictionados!



bottom of page