thinking about “flash fiction”

is there any definable characteristic that separates what is called “flash fiction” from what is called “short story” or “novella” or “novel.”

i read this story and wondered that.

i don’t know if i really have an answer myself.  it seems like quantity is the only clear division but that makes me wonder about differences in novel length, those of course exceeding the difference between “flash fiction” and “short story” length fiction, additionally the “novella.”

the only way to say yes to the first question is to provide a definable characteristic that resides in flash length pieces solely, or vice versa but i can’t think of any.  it would have to take length into account for definition or negation of that characteristic.

which makes me think about categories.

which makes me think of always approaching something with something else prefigured if you think you understand a category.

which makes me think almost every discussion of things is endlessly flawed because it relies more on a dual misunderstanding of a category rather than personal facts.

i just thought about “time spent with characters and/or ideas” as a qualifier that might differentiate them.  but that is untrue if the length of something and its effects with character/idea/language  is meted out in smaller sections.  meaning each flash length piece of the longer work could be held accountable for a certain duty in creating the overall effect (with indifference to the overall effect as anything other than something that definitely happens in an indefinite way).  so a longer writing, even when comparing a sentence to its paragraph conducts some amount of overall power.  this seems true regardless of realistic tendencies or otherwise.

so then i think that maybe the beginning and the end of the piece confer more significance than the length since those two things represent some kind of limits given.  the only context maybe. but then this would apply to all writing that was at least one full word long. so again, length wouldn’t matter.

i guess i just read the story that joseph young wrote and thought about the above.  and then thought that flash fiction is just another way of describing something that doesn’t need to be described.  but i’m probably wrong.  i feel love right now.  i use lower case letters because it’s quicker.  help out other people when you can.