Short writing is hard.
It stretches writers to find only the essential and to think about what assumptions they can count on their reader to make.
I left with a lot of ideas, but the one thing I wanted to do was more short writing, to stretch myself small.
Here’s a quick flash fiction exercise you can try, based on a suggestion from Fiction Southeast’s 7 Tips for Writing Flash Fiction.
I strongly recommend reading their post first, which has some good suggestions for what works well in flash (such as: no long introductions, start in the action, throw in a twist). I also liked how Ingrid Jendrzejewski of FlashBack described how good flash fiction works: rather than looking down a telescope, flash fiction has to be immediate, in the moment, an illuminated instant, which is more like being down on the ground, in the midst of things.
I love how this kind of discipline can force historians down into uncomfortable proximity with the past.
Create a scene where a character faces a life changing moment, in 50 words or less. You could allow yourself about 12 minutes.
Tip: it’s not hard to write 50 words in 12 minutes: what is hard is getting it down under the word limit, while still making sense. Here’s my attempt:
I walk head down in the rain to work, where electronic hygiene soothes my worries. In two minutes I delete 400 emails, like a flashing running from my fingers, hypnotic. That’s how I almost miss the One, as flat and normal as every other email.
Subject: ‘Lottery Prize Notification.’
For more examples of flash (historical) fiction, try the FlashBack website, including this witchcraft story.