Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans


As a follow-up to Thursday's craft discussion on image patterns, here's a suggestion I received from my MFA advisor at Vermont College, Abby Frucht.

Create a list of words unique to a specific field--such as words from cooking--and then use these throughout a piece (subtly of course) in a way that both complements and creates meaning(s). Music, medicine, art, horses, and on and on. Pick your field and begin the planting.

Here, for example, is an excerpt of a word-list from the world of English teaching (thanks Wikipedia!):

accuracy • brainstorm • class • deductive • feedback • guided • intonation • language • lesson • modeling • non-native • objective • peer • proficiency • rapport • spiraling • student • syntax • task • teachable moments • uninterrupted sustained silent reading • vocabulary • worksheet 

Here's another "image-pattern" related exercise, this one adapted from Bonnie Neubauer's The Write-Brain Notebook. Close your eyes and explore your hands with your hands. Write one thing that surprised you. Now begin with one of these starters:

  • Her hands were so delicate
  • He took my hand in his
  • The calluses on his hands
  • I have to hand it to you

(You are free, of course, to choose your own body part if hands don't do it for you.) Consider all the various meanings of the hand.
Use these differing meanings to play off each other. Something is going to happen to someone's hand in your story. That's all I can tell you.

Time Bomb.jpgFinally, there's this. I had the good fortune to study with Pamela Painter, author of What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, and short-short writer extraordinaire. She suggests writing a story governed by time. She says to think of things "that are done in small units of time." Don't leave those confines. Time will tick throughout this piece. Don't forget to consider those varied and nuanced difference in time meanings. Pamela Painter offers these examples: naming a child or pet, washing a car, stealing something, waiting or standing in line, packing for a trip, changing the message on an answering machine, teaching a class, getting a haircut, throwing a birthday party. Someone will be running out of time. Probably you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *