Saying goodbye for now

Kind friends, the time has come to say goodbye for now. I ...

The power of family stories

I’m resurrecting this post because the article cited is so affirming.  Affirmation ...

Summer writing prompts

I’ve been enjoying reading Abilgail Thomas’ book, Thinking About Memoir. It offers ...

Writing Tips & Sample Stories

Best flash memoir collections

These are books I would classify as flash memoir collections and great reads: – I Remember by Joe Brainard (1975) – Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman (1995) – The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard (1998) – My Life as a List by Linda Rosenkrantz (1999) – Safekeeping: Some True Stories […]

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Writing Wonder: Riff on a random Word

I’d like to share my ultra-favorite writing exercise with you. Pick up any book that’s close at hand. Close your eyes. Open the book and place your finger randomly on a page. Write a story using that word as inspiration (or move your finger until you can). Alternate: Start your story with an eye-catching phrase […]

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Create associations for your reader

This great advice is about the associations you create with the words you choose in your story, and the need for mindful precision. It’s focused on poets and adjectives, but applies equally to flash story writers and to nouns and verbs … Ted Kooser, in the Poetry Home Repair Manual, writes:  You may have been […]

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What makes a flash story?

Flash refers to a very short story. Think of them as elevator stories – a quick smile or flash of diamond, a peek of thigh and whiff of cologne. Read in five minutes, but remembered for a lifetime. You’ll find varying definitions of the length of a flash story, but 300-2000 words is common; a […]

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Pros & cons of present tense in memoir

Have you tried to write a memoir in present tense? It’s a perfect fit for many memoirs, but can be challenging for the writer. I recently attended a panel discussion on this topic at the 2014 AWP conference, presented by Kate Hopper, Hope Edelman, Bonnie Rough, Marybeth Holleman, and Ryan Van Meter, and they had […]

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Featured Journal: Brevity

Reading good flash stories walks hand in hand with writing good flash stories, which means you’ve gotta know about Brevity magazine. Brevity is synonymous with flash, and has been publishing stalwart and emerging writers for decades. Be sure to browse the current & past issues, as well as the craft advice, book reviews, and blog. […]

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Add some crackle

It’s called onomatopoeia and it’s words that bring sound to your stories.  Merriam-Webster defines it as 1) the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (buzz, hiss)  2) the use of words whose sound suggests the sense (hiccup). Make a list of word sounds you like.  […]

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Trap your story topics

I have found it extremely useful to keep a list of subjects or, more specifically, scenes I want to write about as they occur to me. And, since things to write about nearly always occur to me at inconvenient times – in the shower, during a conversation with a friend, while I’m reading a book, while […]

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Alternative thesauruses

So, you know how much I love the thesaurus as a writing tool, yes?  Well then you can imagine my excitement at discovering an abundance of alternative thesauruses at Writers Helping Writers. You’ll find links to scads of helpful resources, such as the Weather & Earthly Phenomena Thesaurus, Setting Thesaurus, Symbolism Thesaurus and more. The Character Trait Thesaurus and […]

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Economize with setting descriptions

With length of prose being the perennial challenge in flash storytelling, making setting descriptions crisp and meaningful is paramount.  A great description of place can be helpful in compressing a story by serving double-duty and illuminating a character or other necessary story element. For example, a thoughtful description of the contents of your dad’s desk is […]

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Fans by Sue William Silverman

If you haven’t checked out Brevity magazine online yet, you need to bookmark it post haste and visit often. My chosen featured story this month is published there, called Fans by Sue William Silverman. The format is graceful and the motif of the fans is exquisitely deft.  The story shows off the characteristic zinger of all […]

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The Wheels of Fortune by Peter Hessler

This story perfectly captures the charm of a village and its people, a cultural trait illuminated by the routines of the wider world, and the author’s hilarious ex-pat take on it all. I discovered it via Longform’s compilation of 25 Favorite Unlocked New Yorker Articles, which quickened my pulse at first glimpse. Please take a […]

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