Posted by Erika Beebe
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Thank you Raimey!
This week, I’m preparing to teach a writing workshop to honors eighth grade English Language Arts students. I’ve been asked to talk about Flash Fiction. Thus, my purpose for today’s post and why I think it’s the best cure when you really need to refocus and shift your thoughts.
It’s like real life when you stop to think about it.
No matter where I am, memories or flashes of my life slip into my thoughts and steal my focus for a brief period of time. I might be sitting at my desk working on the design of a new logo for a school, and suddenly I’m hearing the voice of my son from earlier that morning chattering about some funny story that made him laugh in school, or hear the sound of my daughter’s voice bellowing down the hallway to some book on cd or karaoke song she played and practiced in her room. There’s always a beginning, middle and end. It’s brief. It’s meaningful. It’s relief in the busyness of my day.
The challenge to think of something new.
Ever tried to write with visual props?
When my writing partner introduced me to the idea of trying to write multiple pieces a week, I laughed. I thought, How in the world can I shift my focus so fast? Writing prompts are all that’s needed. When using them, I find it’s helpful to let your mind wander and then stop on something that makes you hold your breath. I combine quotes with visual faces, landscapes, animals, sparkly bubbles. Typically I write with two, sometimes three. Pinterest is my go-to tool. I have a board called writing prompts where I keep visually intriguing pins. What works best for me, is to limit myself with an amount of time to focus on one story. When I make up my mind, I usually commit myself to three pieces a week. I assign a deadline and set the clock. Usually these exercises take place during a lunch break and begin on Monday. When the hour is over I shift my focus again. I allow myself to reread the story later that night after the kids have gone to bed. I edit it. Then I share it with my writing partner. The next day at lunch, I might take another look, but by Wednesday, it’s time to move on to a new one.
Low pressure to be perfect.
With Flash Fiction, I allow myself to shove every lengthy novel idea I have out of my head. The prompts are the perfect visual distraction. I free write and let my mind wander and don’t focus too deeply on the histories of my characters, because as I know about me, I go pretty deep into their stories. It’s also a major point of Flash Fiction mentioned in Writer’s Digest. You can read the full article here.
In my practice with Flash Fiction, I came up with four very different stories from my usual topics of interest. It was surprisingly fresh and gave me a new view about how far I could push my brain.
The pace is fast and complete with a beginning, middle and end.
I try to keep my Flash Fiction between 1,000 – 1,500 words max. It’s also great exercise to help focus on a point of conflict, the moment we define our theme and hold back our character’s most wanted thing in the whole world, and finally create a conclusion in a brief and satisfying period of time.
Question. What helps you create new and different story ideas?
Lastly, here’s my favorite quote about challenge and adventure: