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Mini-Class: Flash Fiction - How to Tell Pint Sized Stories

Benjamin Samuel, Editor

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3 Videos (19m)
    • A Stranger Comes to Town

    • Let's Go on an Adventure

    • Another Stranger Comes to Town


About This Class

Limitations are liberating. Just ask the Oulipo, a group of literary daredevils that imposed rules on their writing in order to reveal a greater potential for literature. Flash fiction (very, very short stories) is the art of distillation, a form that challenges the writer to create an entire world in a very small space.


Constraining a narrative that feels as expansive as a novel into a mere 1,000 words or less isn't as impossible as it sounds. In fact, when flash fiction is working just right it's a window into a world that even a Proustian verbosity couldn't reveal. Writing flash fiction is a challenge that'll inform all of your writing and remind you just how powerful a few well chosen words can be. And in a day and age of 140 character tweets and 6 second Vines, when everyone seems to be complaining about waning attention spans, flash fiction is a centuries-old tradition that fits right into our modern lifestyles.

This flash course is designed for aspiring writers, novelists, poets, playwrights, and anyone interested in writing with economy.


The class will be broken down into three quick sessions in which we'll look at examples of great flash fiction, consider how and why they work, learn some good writing habits, and investigate some outlets where you can read published (or submit your own) flash fiction. There will be three writing exercises, in you'll economize, condense, and create your own flash fiction stories.

You might not walk away with Hemingway's legendary 6-word story ("For Sale: baby shoes, never worn") but he didn't actually write that story anyway. What you will leave this class with is an appreciation of the short form, it's place in our lives, and how engaging with restraint can set your creativity free.


Examples: "OIF" by Phil Klay, "Seven Stories" by Alex Epstein, "Broke" by Aimee Bender, "Wings" by Ben Loory, "Gorillas" by Ben Loory, "How Things Have Actually Changed Since We Did Secede from the United States" by Ron Carlson

Artwork by David Polonsky for "Seven Stories" by Alex Epstein. Illustration © 2012 by David Polonsky.

61 of 72 students recommendSee All

This was a good intro class for me on flash fiction. I joined a writing group that does 25-minute flash fiction exercises and I've found it a bit difficult. This class helped me to think about it in a new way, read good examples, and get some practice with very loose assignments. I'll take what he taught me and keep exercising my writing muscles!
This class proved to be short but substantial. Creative Writing is currently a class I have to take in my degree and this skillshare class was right on time! Thank You Benjamin! :)
JLSA Marshall

Designer • Artist





I'm the Co-Editor of Electric Literature, an independent digital publisher based out of Brooklyn, and its weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading. Electric Literature was the recipient of the National Book Foundation's 2011 Innovations in Reading Prize and has been recognized by Best American Short Stories, the Pen/O'Henry Prize, and Best American Non-Required Reading. I have an MFA from Brooklyn College, and my writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Huffington Post, ...

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