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

Benjamin Samuel, Editor

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
3 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. A Stranger Comes to Town

      6:23
    • 2. Let's Go on an Adventure

      5:52
    • 3. Another Stranger Comes to Town

      6:17
11 students are watching this class

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.

plot-twist-alex-epstein.jpg

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.

tumblr_mbl42kjCd31rv81c8o1_500.jpg

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.

quiet-legend-alex-epstein.jpg

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.