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Flash Fiction: A Thousand Words > Picture

teacher avatar Ilana Masad, Writer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Best Homework


    • 3.

      What *is* Flash Fiction?


    • 4.

      Flash & Me


    • 5.

      Flash & You (PROMPTS!)


    • 6.

      "Incarnations of Burned Children"


    • 7.

      "The Thirteenth Woman"


    • 8.

      "In A World Gone Mad"


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


    • 10.

      BONUS! Having Trouble? Let's Talk


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About This Class

In this class, we’ll talk what flash fiction is generally agreed to be, what can happen in flash fiction (everything!), and why it’s a great writing exercise as well as an incredible form of writing itself.

You’ll learn how constraints like word count can help you be inspired.

We’ll look at some flash fiction pieces: the short-short “The Thirteenth Woman” by Lydia Davis; the slightly over 1k words David Foster Wallace story “Incarnations of Burned Children”; and one of my own stories, which won a prize on One Throne Magazine, “In A World Gone Mad."

Meet Your Teacher

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Ilana Masad



Ilana Masad is an Israeli-American writer living in New York. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, McSweeney's, Printer's Row, Hobart, Joyland Magazine, Hypertext Magazine, Split Lip Magazine, Drafthorse Journal, Specter, and more. She is the founder of The Other Stories, a podcast that makes it a bit easier for new, emerging, and struggling writers to be heard. You can find her tweeting too much @ilanaslightly.

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1. Introduction: Hi. My name is a lot of Massad. I'm an Israeli American writer and I write because I can't do anything else. It's what I know how to do it. It's what I understand, and it's really what I love. I started writing when I was in high school, and I wrote that poetry like kind of everybody does, and slowly I started learning how to write. I started learning different ways that I wanted to write. I started playing with language form, started getting published. I'm now represented by Eric Smith of PS Literary. He's awesome. Hi, Eric. And I mean, I write novels. I write short stories. I write flash fiction, which is what this class is gonna be about. I guess what I love about writing partly is I love being able to make people feel. I love being able to feel something as I'm writing. It's challenging. It's interesting. And to me it's It's, I guess, the greatest form of empathy that there is. You get to sort of go into people's brains and worlds and figure out what makes them tick and what what they do and why they do it. And I feel like The reason that I'm in the world in a way is because I want to listen to people and right, so this class is called flash fiction. 1000 words can pick picture, and that's because flash fiction is normally around 1000 words and because words, in my opinion, paint a better picture than any picture camp. So what we're going to learn in this class is we're going to talk about what flash fiction actually is, what you could do with it, how you can break it down. What rules does it have? Doesn't have rules? Is it some sort of like weird monster thing that has no rules? We're going to talk about the class project that I'm going to give you guys, which is really cool. We're going to be looking at a few different pieces of flash fiction. We're going to look at David Foster Wallace's incarnations of burned Children, and we're going to look at Lydia Davis is the 13th woman which are drastically different pieces of flash fiction which do very different things and are both really cool. And then we're going to look at a piece of my flash fiction, which actually comes from the project that I'm going to give you guys, and that's coming up. Next is your project your class project, So stick around and thank you for watching this course. 2. The Best Homework: This is the best homework you're ever gonna get. That's my opinion. So Ah, the class project that you're gonna get is I'm going to give you two sentences. They're gonna be point A and point B, you're going to write a story in less than 1000 words, including those two sentences that I give you and including the title which you will give your story. And it could be a long and the short as you want, But it all has to be under 1000 words or exactly 1000 words. And you have to get from point A to point B. So point A the sentence is when Midnight came and went and all that was left on the road was a pile of you're gonna bring that all the way to point B, which is Dawn broke with an audible crack, A back stretching itself out of a long night time cramp and all was still You're going to do that. You're gonna write a story from point A to point B and coming up next, we're going to look at what is flash fiction. We're going to look at it. Ah, the rules. We're going to look at the different stories that I told you about in my last video, and then you're going to write this this thing and it's gonna be great. 3. What *is* Flash Fiction?: So what on earth is flash fiction? Okay, so this is kind of fun, because the definitions are ridiculous because they don't really exist. So definition sort of Writer's Digest says this exact definitions can vary by specific market, but generally complete stories of fewer than 1,501,500 or even 300 words can be classified of slash fiction. Other terms play companionable E in the same sandbox, including short short stories, immediate fiction, sudden fiction and micro fiction. Though their definitions overlap and publishers uses of them Very Justus, widely as the word limits do. Basically, flash fiction is kind of whatever you want it to be, but it does have some rules. So what flash fiction isn't is a short story, that is, It is not a full length short story, sort of like Alice Munro, the master of short fiction, the Nobel laureate. She does not write flash fiction. She writes to short stories. Her stories are much longer. They can be up to 15 2030 40 pages long. Where's flash fiction is immediate. It's short. It's generally really 1500 words is sort of stretching the flash fiction, um, the flash fiction genre. That's sort of like the upper upper limit. Um, and the thing about flash fiction is it's It's malleable. It can do sort of a lot of different things. It can. It can look at a single moment in a life and stretch that moment out, which the David Foster Wallace story does. It can look at an entire life and condense it into something really, really small, which is what the Lydia Davis story does. It can build a world and give it to you in thes bite sized pieces. It can give you definitions. It can. It can tell you the story of a snapshot. It can tell you the story of just a scene. It can tell you the story of a character. It can do so many things, but the point is that it's always immediate light, like the other words that describe it so sudden fiction, micro fiction, it's it's small. And that's also good for our attentions fan these days, right? I mean, the Internet is full of bite size things, so flash fiction is kind of the ultimate new media format for stories. Which is not to say that short stories and novels don't have their merit. I write both. I write short stories and novels, but I love flash fiction because of that immediacy. Because of the way that sometimes you can just sit and write 1000 words and that's it, and you don't need to touch it anymore. Or you can white right, even write 500 words and then work on it for a year until it's perfect. So it's really on unexpected format that you can experiment with. You can do so many different things with. So that is what flash fiction is. That's what flash fiction isn't, which is, Remember short stories. So think Alice Munro, not flash fiction. She's amazing, but not flash fiction. Um, and we also now talked about what flash fiction conduce you on, what it can't do, which is very little. It can kind of do everything, Um, and next we're going to talk a little bit. Well, I'm going to tell you a little bit about how I came to flash fiction and what I've done with it, and about my struggles with it, and then we're going to go to prompts 4. Flash & Me: So how did I come to flash fiction? Kind of by accident. When I was 18 I started a blawg on WordPress, and I just started writing little stories, and I didn't really realize that what I was doing was flash fiction. I didn't realize that there was a form that was called flash Fiction. I was sort of just just writing scenes. I was practicing, and that's something that I've come to learn and love about. Flash fiction is that as a form, it is something that you can practice with. It's something that you can experiment with. It's something where if you never thought about writing in second person, let's say you can try doing that and you don't have to write a full length short story in that format or try to write a novel. In that format, you can you can experiment. You can just have, like, 1000 words all speaking to Ah, you, you know, or you can do third person plural and play with the Wii format. Um, and basically I just I feel like flash fiction is this place where I've learned to experiment where I've learned to really let go of some of the constraints that I had and the ideas that I had about what fiction has to be or can't be because because flash fiction is a format that is sort of burgeoning and is wonderfully beautiful, and it's been around for a long time, it's just we haven't called it that One of the struggles of flash fiction for me is that I sort of I write and then I assume like, Oh, it's done, it's fine And then I'll start sending it off to places and I'll be getting rejections and rejections and rejections. I have a file of over 200 rejections, but I then go back to the story and I look at it and I realized, Wait, wait, wait. Writing 1000 words doesn't mean that it's easy. It doesn't mean that it's done, and I need to go back and sort of work on it. And remember that this isn't just sort of some dashed off things. Sometimes it can be, and that's wonderful because sometimes that does happen. You'll write 1000 words in an hour, and they'll be perfect. And then other times you'll write 1000 words and a year later, you'll realize this is really terrible or this isn't conveying what I want to convey with it. So I better do something with this. I better try to change this. Maybe it deserves a longer format. Maybe I need to shorten it. Maybe I just need to be more careful with my language. And that's something that I've learned about Flash fiction myself for my work, anyway, is that language is so important, just paying attention to it and and sort of listening to it to the cadence and the the the rhythm of the words That's essential, at least my flash fiction. It's not essential to everybody's, but that's how I experience it. Um, so this is just to say that basically, it can be easy and it can be hard, and it kind of just depends on where you're at and how your flow is going. And don't take it lightly, but also play with it. I'm giving you contradicting information. That's how it is. Flash friction is just kind of a mind bender that way. Um, next thing we're gonna dio uh, now that I've told you a little bit about my struggles with flash friction eyes. I'm going to give you a few prompts for you to just think about after we finish this entire lesson on and these will be for you to figure out sort of. Ah, later. After you finish the class project on you want to keep writing flash fiction, these will be yours to play with. 5. Flash & You (PROMPTS!): So in this video, we're going to talk about some prompts. That is, I am going to talk about some problems and you're going to write them down for later. Or you're gonna save this video and watch it later, after you finish the class project, that's the first thing you got to do. Um, so here's some fun problems for flash fiction. Ah, one of them is open a book that's next to you. Any book to page 35 look at the second sentence there. So find the first full sentence on the page and then go to the second full sentence on the page. That's the first sentence of your story. Then you're going to go back after you finish that story, and you're going to change that first sentence because you don't plagiarize. That's problem. Number one problem Number two is This is something I learned from David Hollander, who was an amazing teacher. He wrote L I E. So this prompt is a little tricky, but it can yield really, really cool results. So you're going to write a 200 words story. Exactly 200 words. Not one word less. Not one word more. But in those 200 words, you're going to use Onley 50 different words. You're allowed to use different forms of verbs and count. That is the same word, and you are allowed to use plural Z and count. That is the same word, but that's it. Other than that, you make a list of 50 words, and those are all of the words that you get to use in those 200 words. It's really challenging. It takes a while, but it is amazing, and it sort of teaches you a little bit about the value of repetition and how you can play with it in flash fiction on. And that's really sort of micro fiction, which is even smaller than flash. But it's still under the same umbrella. Another prompt is you open a dictionary, um, to three different pages. You just sort of plunk your finger down on a word on each of those pages, and then you have to include those words in your story you have Teoh. It's a challenge, and it sometimes sucks, cause you'll get really weird words like pulmonary. But believe me, it yields very interesting stories, and again it's for practice, and it'll be really fun. So these are three exercises that you can think about. And if you noticed all of these exercises to give you restraints, because really one of the main things about flash fiction is thinking inside the box. So you have a box, which is your flash fiction, which is your 1000 words or 1200 words. 700 words or 500 words. You choose a word length and you work with in that box. And sometimes despite that very common phrase of thinking outside the box, sometimes in writing outside the box can be really scary. So inside it can be really safe and really interesting, which isn't to say easy and which isn't to say, not exciting, because if you've ever seen the Cube, which is a really weird movie, being inside of boxes can be really terrifying, too. So just think about that. Think inside the box, and now we're going to go and look some cool texts 6. "Incarnations of Burned Children": so the first story we're going to look at is devastating. I'm warning you. It's called Incarnations of Burned Children by David Foster Wallace. I'm going to read it to you, and then we're going to talk about it. If you want to read along just Google incarnations of burned Children and it's published an Esquire, and it's free and available to the public so you can read along with me. The daddy was around the side of the house, hanging a door for the tenant when he heard the child screams and the mommy's voice gone high between them, he could move fast, and the back porch gave on to the kitchen and before the screen door had banged shut behind him, the daddy had taken the scene in whole, the overturned pot on the floor tile before the stove and the burners, blue jet and the floors, pool of water still steaming as its many arms extended the toddler and his baggy diaper standing rigid, with steam coming off his hair and his chest and shoulders, Scarlett and his eyes rolled up and mouth open very wide and seeming somehow separate from the sounds that issued the mommy down on one knee with a dishrag, dabbing pointlessly at him and matching the screams with cries of her own. Hysterical. So she was almost frozen. Her one knee and the bear little soft feet were still in the steaming pool, and the daddy's first act was to take the child under the arms and lift him away from it and take him to the sink, where he threw out plates and struck the tap toe. Let cold, well, water run over the boys feet while with his cupped hand, he gathered and poured or flung more cold water over the head and shoulders and chest, wanting first to see the steam stop coming off him, the mommy over his shoulder, invoking God until he sent her for towels and gauze. If they had it, the daddy moving quickly and well and his man's mind empty of everything but purpose, not yet aware of how smoothly he moved, or that he'd ceased to hear the high screams because to hear them would freeze him and make impossible what had to be done to help his own child, whose screams were regular as breath and went on so long they become already a thing in the kitchen, something else to move quickly around. The 10 insides door outside hung half off its top hinge and moved slightly in the wind, and a bird in the oak across the driveway appeared to observe the door with a cocked head as the cries still came from inside. The worst skulls seem to be the right arm and shoulder. The chest and stomachs red was fading to pink under the cold water, and his feet soft soles weren't blistered that the daddy could see. But the toddler still made little fists and screamed, except maybe now merely on reflects from fear the daddy would know. He thought it possible later, small face, distended and thready, veins standing out at the temples, and the daddy kept saying he was here. He was here, adrenaline, ebbing and in anger at the mommy for allowing this thing to happen, just starting to gather in wisps at his mind's extreme rear and still hours from expression . When the mommy returned, he wasn't sure whether to wrap the child in a towel or not, but he wet the towel down and did swaddled him tight and lifted his baby out of the sink and set him on the kitchen's table's edge to soothe him while the mommy tried to check the feet souls with one hand waving around in the area of her mouth and uttering object list words while the daddy bent in and was face to face with a child on the tables checked edge , repeating the fact that he was here and trying to calm the toddler's cries. But still, the child breathlessly screamed, Ah, hype, your shining sound that could stop his heart and his biddy lips and gums now tinged with the light blue of a low flame, the daddy thought screaming as if almost still under the tilted pot in pain a minute. To like that like this. That seemed much longer with the mommy and at the daddy side, a talking singsong at the child's face and the lark on the limb, with its head on to its side and the hinge going white in a line from the weight of the canted door. Until the first scene, whisp of steam came lazy from under the wrapped towels hem, and the parents eyes met and widened the diaper, which, when they opened the towel and lean their little boy back on the checkered cloth and unfastened the soften tabs and try to remove it resistance lightly with the new high cries and was hot. Their baby's diaper burned their hand, and they saw where the rial watered, fallen and pooled and been burning their baby boy all this time while he screamed for them to help him and they hadn't hadn't thought. And when they got it off and saw the state of what was there, the mommy said their gods first name and grabbed the table to keep her feet while the father turned away and threw a haymaker at the air of the kitchen and cursed both himself and the world for not the last time. While his child might now have been sleeping if not for the rate of his breathing and the tiny, stricken motions of his hands in the air above, where he lay hand the size of a grown man's thumb that had clutched the daddy some in the crib while he'd watch the daddy's mouth move in song, his head cocked and seeming to see way past him into something his eyes made the daddy loan some foreign aside. Wave way. If you've never wept and want to have a child, break your heart inside and something will. A child is the 20 song The Daddy Here's again, as if the radios lady was almost there with him, looking down at what they've done, though hours later, what the daddy most won't forgive is how badly he wanted a cigarette right then, as they diapered the child as best they could and gauze and two crossed hand towels and the daddy lifted him like a newborn with his skull in one, palm and Iran ran him out to the hot truck and burned custom rubber all the way to the town and the clinics, E. R. With a tenant's door hanging open like that all day until the hinge gave. But by then it was too late when it wouldn't stop and they couldn't make it. The child had learned to leave himself and watched the whole rest unfold from a point overhead and whatever was lost, never thence forth mattered, and the child's body expanded and walked about. Andrew pay and lived. It's life untended, anted ah, thing among things itself, soul, so much vapor aloft, falling his reign and then rising the sun up and down like a yo yo. So this incredible story, basically is about parents and they're burned child and the fact that he was burned in his diaper and probably loses his genitals in some form or another. And that's That's the story. That's all it is. It's just about two parents and their baby. But what a story. I mean, the language, the the way. The There are various words that are repeated. So, for instance, the word a thing, the way the child's cries are a thing in the kitchen and later the child is a thing untended. It'd These are the sort of things that David Foster Wallace pays attention to in his language and his work in general. But in this story specifically, which is one of his absolute shortest, it's around 1200 words, and it plays with the language and with these long sentences. So I was pausing. But if you read along with me, you could see that actually, the only reason I was positing was so that I would be able to breathe, because if you read it, you see that it's this intense forward motion the whole time there may be four or five full stops and the entire story, um, one of them is around this brilliant sentence, which just has seems to have nothing to do with the language of the story at all. And in that way it's very playful and interesting. So if you've never wept and want to have a child, that's suddenly the narrator inserting himself into this story, which really doesn't have a strong sense of a narrator because it's so close to the daddy and a mommy, which, by the way, aren't named. Which is another interesting thing that you can do with flash fiction. Sort of your characters can be a lot more universal because this mommy and Daddy aren't very specific there, their parents, the details of this story, the sort of urgency comes from the way that David Foster Wallace keeps the story in this very enclosed space. And as you can see, this is like one of the examples that I gave earlier about how this is really a moment. This is maybe a few moments, maybe a minute in time, and it's stretched out like gum to make all of these very small details come alive and become urgent, because in an emergency in this sort of panicked state, that's how things are. If you've ever experienced something like that, you know that, really. It's not so much that maybe time slows down, but just that the details become so essential. And that's what Wallace is doing here. Um, so, yeah, that is incarnations of burned Children. And it's from his collection Oblivion, which is amazing. And you should read it anyway. Um, and this is one of the pieces of longer flash fiction. Like I said, So read it over again, pay attention to what he's doing with the language. Look at the repetitions. Um, look at how he's playing with masculinity and these in this small piece, he's talking about a baby that's male. He talks about a father who has a man's mind. Um, the actions that the daddy takes is opposed to the mommy. He's making all sorts of assertions here, and he's making the story so much about sort of gender and parenthood and both its universality and its specificity to a story like this toe. A moment like this and all of that is doing in this really short span of time. So those are things just to think about in your fiction is how you play with these kinds of moments, and the next story we're going to look at is way shorter. 7. "The Thirteenth Woman": So in this segment, we're going to talk about Lydia Davis's story. The 13th Woman. It's one of her very early stories. It's in her collected stories that was published a few years ago, but it was originally published in the mid seventies. I think 1976 in a book that's I don't think, even in print anymore, Unfortunately, but Lydia Davis is one of the sort of great flash fiction writers of today, and she's, you know, won a bunch of awards, and she's also a translator. She's really cool, but this So this story is called the 13th Woman, and I'm just going to read it to you again. You can search for it online, but it's not necessarily legally available. It's like on a tumbler somewhere. So by the book, really did Lydia Davis. She's amazing, anyway, but I'm going to read it to you so, and it's really short so you can follow along pretty easily. In a town of 12 women, there was 1/13. No one admitted she lived there. No mail came for her. No one spoke of her. No one asked. After her, no one sold bread to her. No one bought anything from her. No one returned her glance. No one knocked on her door. The rain did not fall on her. The sun has never shone on her. The day never dawned on her. The night never fell for her. For her the weeks did not pass. The years did not roll by. Her house was unnumbered her garden untended her path not trod upon her bed, not slept in her food, not eaten her clothes not worn. And yet, in spite of all this, she continued to live in the town without resenting what it did to her. So this is a really powerful story, in my opinion, because it's about a woman that doesn't exist but exists. And what does that mean? So again, here this is This is two sentences. This entire thing is to sentence the first sentence, which is in a town of 12 women. There was 1/13 and then the rest of it has semi Coghlan's sort of giving you the sections. So that's another thing that you can do in flash fiction is play with your punctuation azi . You can play with, um, the length of your story like here this is a lifetime that's being described. Lydia Davis is giving us a lifetime of this 13th woman. It's almost like a fairy tale in that way, except that it's condensed to this tiny little thing, and it's all about the negatives. It's all about what this 13th woman doesn't do, doesn't have, and it implies also that something is done to her. That sort of. It's not her fault that none of this is happening, that it's somehow not her decision for the day not to shine on her for the night, not to fall on her, for for her path to be on trodden. So it's It's a Ziff. She's sequestered in this home that maybe does and maybe doesn't exist. And she doesn't resent she doesn't resent that. And what a powerful statement that is. And again, all in this tiny little micro story that gives you a lifetime and so much to think about, because what is this woman? Is she riel? Does she actually live in this town? It she imaginary. Is she the 12th 12 women's imagination? Ah, is she Is she her own imagination? She's sort of it seems to me like Lydia Davis is basically asking if if a woman it doesn't make a sound in the forest when she falls, does she exist? That is one of the things that is amazing about flash fiction is how you can ask this kind of powerful question using about 100 words. Maybe it's a little more, but very few words is the point. Fewer words than I am using right now to talk about the story can be used to tell that story. So play with that idea. Play with the thought of what can exist and what can't exist. Play with again repetition. This sort of list format that Lydia Davis uses is something that is actually found in flash fiction quite a lot. There's another story which I recommend that you read called Girl by Jamaica Kincaid, which I'm not going to read to you, But it also has this kind of list format, except in Girl. There's a description of what this It's a mother speaking to a girl, telling her what not to dio and what to do. So it's again this sort of playing with the positive and the negative. Another story you might want to check out or rather, a collection. It's kind of considered a novel. It's one of these strange things is Ben Marcus is theeighties of Wire and String, which uses definitions as its form of storytelling. And it's incredibly experimental and very strange and doesn't really have a plot. But it's wonderful for sparking your ideas and for letting go of this idea of what a story is supposed to be. And that is. Part of what I love about about the 13th Woman is because it is a story entire, but it's tiny, so that is Lydia Davis. And, like I said, Jamaica Kincaid girl Ben Markus, check those writers out. Another writer who's really interesting to read in terms of her languages. Donora fell, and we're going to go now to the last story, which is my own and which is actually very similar to the class project that you have 8. "In A World Gone Mad": on June 27th of Ah 2015 I participated in a contest called Joust with one thrown magazine where I was sent to sentences. First sentence in the last sentence, and I had to use the those sentences to start and finish a story that was not allowed to be longer than 1000 words. Um, and it was a contest, and I had 24 hours to write this story. So this is very much like your class project, except I'm not giving you 24 hours to finish it, because it's really hard to do that. Although if you want to challenge yourself, it is a really good challenge for trying to make that happen, trying to get that fiction flowing. So let me just read you quickly. The first sentence in the last sentence that I was sent, and then I'll read you the story, which actually won the competition. And, um, I was very pleased with that, and also to find out that it was selected as one of the finalists for the Ah Best Fictions Anthology, which comes from Queens Free Press Eso. My name will be listed in the back along with like the other finalists and you should check out the anthology because it's really cool. And there's some incredible writers there, and it's all flash fiction, old flat fictions. So ah, very good place for you to start reading if you haven't read much flash fiction before. So on June 27th. Like I said Tendai Who? Chu, who was the woman who was sending us the sentences? Send me this first sentence. They laid the Trent the train tracks back to front, and this caused a great deal of confusion. You'd think you were on the train to New York and arrived in Kinshasa or to Shanghai and found yourself lost in Istanbul. And then the last sentence I got was rain dripping from the rusty gutters, made a curtain between the platform and the tracks, and I have to turn that into a story. So I'm now going to read you that story, Um, and tell you sort of what I tried to do with it. I named it in a world gone mad, not knowing that that was a Beastie Boys lyric. Select. Let's pretend that it's not because I live under a rock and don't understand Pop culture very well, so I didn't know that. So I'm gonna pretend that I invented it in a world gone mad. They laid the train tracks back to front. And this caused a great deal of confusion. You'd think you were on the train to New York and arrived in Kinshasa or to Shanghai and found yourself lost in Istanbul. You never knew where you'd end up, and that scared you. It scared you mawr than leaving your house did. That was the first step of your therapy. And it scared you more than walking to the corner store. That had been the second step. Your third step had been going to see a movie at the new three D complex in the middle of town. Your fourth had been to take a taxi to your therapist office. You done all that? But now, with the train tracks back to front and the sharpening edges of your vision increasing your fear, you didn't think you could go through with the final step. You stood in the machine that spits out tickets to places you might never get to. The world had gone mad since you'd first sequestered yourself in your house, and there was no order to things anymore. The confusion caused by the tracks were celebrated in blogged paper articles and street corner holograms. There were advertisements for new ways to brush your teeth without opening your mouth on all the billboard screens and pop ups for hair growth remedies on the sites you frequented for 20 years, you'd experience that madness from the inside of your apartment, painted a cool blue that reflected the sky that used to be before, and you were perfectly happy. It wasn't until your sister contacted you two years ago that you realize you were needed outside of the confines you had accustomed yourself to. She'd said she wanted you there with her to help raise the baby she'd had, Ah, baby with feathers for hair and bumps that looked suspiciously like putting wings on its back. Nobody who was born these days looked anything like what humans used to look like. And when she'd send you the picture of Baby Ickarus you'd been, you'd seem not an abomination, which was what you've been expecting, but a chick lit of a creature that needed love and care and an environment free of fear. and your sister, though She conducted her business outside in the world and bought both a stroller and a tether for her son in Casey. Unexpectedly started to fly when she wasn't looking, was afraid being a mother was terrifying. So you'd started working on your own fears. You found the online therapist and begun the steps. You told your sister that you were trying. You would get there even if it took some time. She accepted your explanation. She believed you. But recently she seemed to have given up. And you knew it was time to do it. To really do it. So there you were, standing at the ticket machine that giggled loudly and requested your money. And what was supposed to be a funny voice but only made you think of ancient horror movies involving clowns. Don't you know where you want to go? A girl stood beside you young in her early teens. I'm going to visit my dad. He sent me to school here, but its boring. So I'm going back home. How will you get there? You asked. It's all random. She scanned your face for something that you are certain wasn't there. You're new to this. You nodded. You just go. You'll get there eventually. Just remember your charger and you'll be fine. Or bison paper books. I know people your age prefer those. She pointed to a store selling both chargers for devices, and you could barely believe they still existed. Actual paperbacks. Actually, I haven't read a paper book in 20 years. Oh, well, if you've got your gadgets with you and some clothes, you'll get to where you're going. Just be patient. Is all the ticket machine in front of her? Finally spit out her ticket and she grinned. Cool. I've never been to the Philippines. She showed you her ticket and it said she'd been. She'd be ending up in a place called Kaluga. Isn't that a really long ride? Not really. Maybe two hours. Three. So it's all faster now. You should have figured you'd probably read about it someplace or another at some point about the trains being faster, the tracks supercharged for rapid transit. But it was hard to connect that information with what looked like such a normal station. It was a classic design, Ah, holdover from the old days, and it's high ceiling was green with feigned white characters constellation around it. They were moving, which you were pretty sure hadn't been the case. Last time you saw it, the girl was staring at you with her head crypt sideways. You're, like, really new to this. Yeah, I am. It made you smile to know the teenagers still spoke and sounded somewhat the same. If you could have clung to this girl born after the world had gone mad with her probably vast amounts of information you would have. But you didn't. Because there were things you didn't do even in a world gone mad. And that was one of them. Have a good trip. You told her and she nodded and walked away. A backpack shaped like a hedgehog swinging behind her. You put your money in the ticket machine and waited for it to spit something out. You got you got you, Catherine Warg, Russia. Your sister was far from there, but this was how it worked. You need to transfer. And then again and maybe again, But there you were doing it. You left the building with your ticket and walked onto the platform. Your ticket was assigned you to you stood there on the antiquated concrete under the cheap plastic roof. You waited and watched the rain dripping from the rusty gutters made a curtain between the platform and the tracks. So that was my story. Um, and what I tried to do with it with first of all, sort of followed the logic that started out in that first sentence, right? Um which, you know, is why prompts a really helpful Because they can give you this sort of road map. Just like the sentences that I gave you are your roadmap for the story you're going to write. And in this story, what I was trying to do and what I think I often like doing in flash fiction is I tried to experiment with something that I didn't and don't write that often, which is a sort of dystopian ish fiction or sort of signed SciFi vibe. But trying to still sort of ground my character in in a place where the psychology still matters in a place where that characters fears are what rules them, Um, this character who is nameless, who is genderless. Um, it's just sort of every person and and they have distinguishing characteristics. Obviously, they're Gora phobic and their, um they have a sister. Their sister has a baby named Ickarus. Um, but at the same time, because I'm using the the second person. It also means that you, the reader, can put yourself in into that situation, which I know that there are many people who really hate second person. I happen to be a fan of it when it's used. Well, which I guess this one was because it won that prize. So there was a job somewhere who decided that, you know, it was worth it s Oh, that's cool. Um, I was not expecting it to win, by the way, because the story that's written in 24 hours is not usually something that I'm pleased with . Um and that's I think, one of those surprise things that flash fiction could do. What can it can take you by surprise and where it and where it brings you again in this story, I just sort of employed some of those things that I was talking about earlier with the other stories. Um, which is I had the repetition. So I was very conscious of using some words repeatedly I was conscious of keeping the world that I was in just vague enough for you to be able to imagine it because I didn't want to sort of do a lot of world building, which you have to do some things with SciFi and fantasy. But I wanted it to be still strange enough for that first sentence to really make sense within the story. Um and so that's what I want you guys to do with the prompts that I gave you and our next video is going to be farewell. 9. Final Thoughts: So we've come to the end of this of this course which I was so happy to Dio. And I really want to hear what you guys think. I want to know what question do you have? So please do comment. I'm going to be checking in. I'd love to see some of your stories. I'm going to remind you of your prompt now. So we have point A and point B and you're going to be going through them. I'm just gonna repeat The sentence is real quick for you. So your first sentence is going to be When Midnight came and went and all that was left on the road was a pile of you get to choose what? And the last sentence is Dawn broke with an audible crack. Ah, back stretching itself out of a long night Time cramp and all was still. And I just might write my own story with point A and point B and we can talk about all of our stories. Um, so just to recap real quick flash fiction is a really malleable form of fiction. It's short. It's to the point. It's very much, um it lends itself to experimentation and it's fun. It's fun to write, even if the stories are sometimes really dark and really strange, because sometimes those air the most fun stories to write, actually, so get cracking, get writing and I can't wait to see what you've got. 10. BONUS! Having Trouble? Let's Talk: So in case you're having trouble, um, I want to talk a little bit about methods for how to get started. Because I know that could be really scary if you're new to writing or if you need to creative writing, Maybe you, you know, written essays for school or for, you know, maybe you write technical writing. Um Or maybe you just have all of these ideas floating around your head and you've never put them to paper yet. So in the problem that I gave you, I gave you a first sentence in the last sentence. And you have to find your way through them right now. In my opinion, the best way to sort of do that is try to turn off the part of your brain that's going. This needs to make sense. This needs to be good. This needs to be something. Just just let that go. I gave you a sort of ellipses at the end of the first sentence, right? So what is the pile off? It's a pile of something. It could be a pile of so many different things. Start their choose what that's going to be. Then where are you Who's there? Are there people there? Where is this landscape? You know. Are you Are you on a highway in Nevada? Are you on an intergalactic, uh, space road between two planets? Are you underground in a bunker? Because the world has ended. Are you on the street right in front of your house? Are you in a university? Are you in an office? Are you burgling in the middle of the night? There are so many places that you can take that kind of sentence. And I think that even beyond just this prompt, it's really scary. Teoh, just look at a blank white page, which is part of why I gave you those prompts earlier in the course, because they're really helpful to sort of get your creative juices flowing. But I know that that still isn't always enough to just sort of start writing. So I would like to just suggest that really one of one of the core things about beginning to write is letting go of inhibitions. Just just put the words on the page. Whatever comes afterwards, you go back, you read it, then you can start tightening up. Then you can start thinking about the language you can start noticing. Wait, I've repeated this word too many times and it doesn't work. Or or I've repeated this word on and it does work. So let me keep it. Maybe let me add it in there or I've made a mistake. And I named the character by two different names. Whoops. Because I had the name and drama at the beginning, and then later I suddenly thought she was named Carol. Those are things you can fix. That's the thing. You can always go back. You can always rewrite. You can always edit. The first draft is always going to be kind of crappy for most people once you get into the swing of things. Once he started writing more often. Maybe once you get used to a style that you like. Once you start finding your voice, then then maybe you'll feel more comfortable with slowing down with sort of thinking about the idea beforehand, maybe mapping it out. But that's not something you need to dio, and many writers don't like. Some writers have a game plan for the beginning, I've tried to outline my novels and not managed to, so I just sort of go and I see what happens. And sometimes it's great and sometimes it's awful and I have to go back and rewrite everything. I'm in the process of rewriting an entire novel now because it just didn't have a story. Oops, that happens. But that's part of the fun. It's part of the adventure. So let yourself get lost in it for a bit. And don't over think it. The overthinking comes later. So again, if you if you have any questions, any concerns, anything you want to talk about, you just want to rant about. Um, just please seriously comment. Ask questions. I'm here. Ah, and I wanna help out.