|See also:||Gift Exchanges, flashfiction, Secret Santa, challenge, ficathon, Art trade|
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A flash exchange is a flashfiction challenge modeled off of gift exchanges (specifically AO3 exchanges) which runs on a very short schedule, usually no longer than a week for nominations, sign ups, and creation period combined and sometimes as short as 48 hours. It's typical for flash exchanges to try to hit at least one full weekend writing day for everyone, regardless of timezone.
Challenges producing flashfiction have been a fandom staple since before Livejournal, and they didn't stop when most activity moved to sites like Dreamwidth and tumblr, but flashfiction challenges tend to be prompt fests or other challenges where participants have a great deal of freedom to produce works for themselves or to a prompt they've specifically selected. Gift exchanges, meanwhile, have usually taken weeks or months and involve creating a work to match the requests of another participant—plus, gift exchanges based on AO3/on the general secret santa model of Yuletide place a strong emphasis on every participant receiving a gift, even if it delays work reveals. Exchanges with short writing periods were therefore fairly rare, and examples predating flash exchanges generally ran along the lines of Multifandom Drabble, which has a 1 week writing period but fairly long sign ups and matching.
The first flash exchange (or, the first known to use the term 'flash exchange' in exchange fandom) was We Die Like Fen, which ran May 31–June 3, 2019 on Archive of Our Own rules and work postings and the Exchanges After Dark Discord server for things like announcements and pinch hits. New flash exchanges continued to crop up through the summer of 2019 and into the fall. WDLF purposefully eschewed a wide variety of exchange fandom norms—for example, no guaranteed gifts or pinch hits, no DNWs, and no contact from the mod for people who are unmatchable—so many of the flash exchanges that followed continued to play around with ways to structure an exchange, using the lower commitment of flash exchanges to experiment freely.
List of Flash Exchanges
Dates listed are for work reveals.
- We Die Like Fen (2 rounds: 2 Jun 2019, 18 Aug 2019)
- Escape the Iron Triangle (7 Jul 2019) 
- Writing Rainbow (3 rounds: 24 Jul 2019, 3 Sep 2019, 7 Oct 2019) 
- 300bpm (11 Aug 2019) 
- Mpreg Flash Exchange (19 Aug 2019) 
- Star Wars Rare Pairings Flash Exchange (19 Aug 2019) 
- Jump Scare (8 Sep 2019) 
- Bucky Flash Exchange (23 Sep 2019) 
- Femflash (23 Sep 2019) 
- Space Race (14 Oct 2019) 
- Untitled Goose Exchange (2 rounds: 20 Oct 2019, 16 Nov 2019) 
- Osmosis Exchange (10 Nov 2019)
- Male Slash Flash Exchange (13 Nov 2019) 
- The Naughty List (18 Nov 2019)