Writing crime flash is a tricky business. Yes, you can use those few words to present an obscene picture of mayhem and death, but can you make the reader care? This was driven home by a flash piece I read the other day. It was well written and moved along to a good conclusion, but I didn't give a rat's ass about either of the people in the story. Why? They were both bad guys without a trace of humanity in them. They might as well have been two dogs fighting over a scrap of meat.
Whether a story is long or short there should be a bit of heart in it. A reader needs to care about the people he's spending time with. In the case of the story I read a man was waiting to kill another man. A man who'd stole some money from the wrong people. It was a totally cold and calculated murder for hire job. Yes, it was a nice portrait of a professional hit man, but how much better if the man he was going to kill was perhaps related to him? Or an old friend? That one bit of information would have shown the reader the even deeper coldness that lay in the killer's heart but it would have also put a bit of humanity into the story. The reader would be left wondering how a man could kill someone he knew so personally. And that's what you want for a story. Something that sticks with the reader when he's finished reading. Something that gets under his skin and forces him see life in a different way.
No matter how short the story there's always a way to put a little heart into the story. A well-placed word or two, a bit of conversation, a tear, or a touch. You don't have to beat the story to death with it, just a passing mention will do. Just a little something that draws the reader closer to your characters.
How about you? Do you prefer a story that leaves you thinking or do you just want to read for the entertainment value and forget the story as soon as you turn the page? Do you writers out there try to find a way to bring that bit of heart into a story or do you just try for the harshness that makes up much of crime fiction?