"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Continuing to investigate short forms - a writing prompt for flash fiction and non fiction


In last Monday's workshop, we discussed what makes the writing in flash fiction and nonfiction dynamic enough to create something moving and memorable for the reader within such a small space. George Saunders in his new book writes:

"The true beauty of a story is not in its apparent conclusion but in the alteration in the mind of the reader that has occurred along the way." - George Saunder

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life  (public library

Leaving the reader in a mind state of investigation or some altered state seems like a big ask for micro pieces of writing. So what techniques in particular can a writer develop for these short forms?

Dinty Moore, editor of Brevity.com, writes in Lithub:

"Like poetry, flash often relies on the tiny detail, the single image, or some peculiarity of word choice or phrasing—small elements that carry a greater load than they might in a longer work.

Another excellent take on flash comes from Atlantic editor C. Michael Curtis, who is speaking of fiction here, but all that he says applies to nonfiction quite well: “The shorter the story, the more both writer and reader have to depend on hard moments of discovery, flashes of illumination that provide, in their suggestiveness and aptness, what other writers struggle for pages to make clear."


Here's our first writing prompt from last Monday's workshop:

Slow down a memory to write into the small details of a time when you danced with someone. Just write about the dance. Don’t write past the time you spent dancing, although you can write about the future within the dance scene itself. Is it a dance with a parent at your wedding? The first dance you dance with a new romantic interest? The dance with someone you know you plan to break up with? The dance you danced alone because you were rejected by a person?




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