To Do by Jennifer Egan

I am intrigued and inspired by lists as a story form. By nature, they are quintessential flash writing. At the moment, I am forlorn with how difficult it is to tell a good story via a list.  Making a list is easy since I live by them and come from a long line of expert list makers. But telling a good story via a list is harder than it seems, so I went in search of a good sample or two. As if I didn’t feel bad enough, I came across Jennifer Egan’s story To Do, a glorious, funny, deft example. Here’s an excerpt:

“10. See if small removable portion of fence can be cut quietly
       c. Electrical devices
            1. How noisy?
            2. Flying metal chips?
            3. Danger of electrocution?
                  a. Rubber gloves/goggles?
                  b. Lethal?
                       1. Sign will
                  c. Does it make the body look really shitty at death?
                       1. Get tooth capped”

You really must treat yourself to the whole story at The Guardian.

I also found a treasure trove at McSweeneys. So, when I get over feeling bereft, the gauntlet is on the table.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to help if I take one of my already-written stories and I work on morphing it into list format. We’ll see.

In the meantime, feel free to prolong my anguish with other good examples — your own or otherwise.

More great featured stories

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Categories: sample stories

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