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How to craft the twist

Aside from word count, the most distinctive trait of a flash story is the twist. You know, that sudden change in meaning or surprising detail that makes you smile or gasp or read out loud to the nearest bystander. The twist is arguably the toughest part of the story to craft. One way to create […]

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Make an engaging story

Delve into your story guest post by Lynette Benton As we sit around two rectangular conference tables we’ve pushed together, I eye my memoir-writing students and say, “When you write about your life, make sure it’s a story, not a report. Even your nearest and dearest will recoil from the prospect of reading fifty pages […]

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Do what works best for you

In classes and writing groups, I’m often asked about my writing practice. This always leads to comments about suggested habits we’ve all read about ( seat time, morning pages, Evernote, the perfect notebook or pen, phone apps, …), and then to guilty confessions about how difficult it is to observe them.  I’m surprised at how willing people […]

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11 editing tips

Early drafts are notorious for repetition, indirection and overdevelopment of the trivial. ~Pamela Erens in The Joy of Trimming Now that you’re done free-writing your first draft, you’re ready for more writing – yes, revising is writing. Does the first sentence grab your reader? Beginning with action or a compelling piece of dialog is a […]

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How to write about family & friends

“What a character!”: How to write about loved ones in your life stories Guest post by Tami Koenig I find the most powerful personal stories are about emotionally compelling relationships. When writing the stories from our lives, we naturally focus on our primary relationships—those with our mother, father, brothers, sisters, lovers, partners, children and friends. […]

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Freeze-frame memoir

Guest post by Jane Hertenstein Much of what I love about flash is about living in the moment. Capturing and seizing a point in time. Freeze framing it—much like a Polaroid snapshot. I like to treat the page like a friend, like a sounding board, or what the poet Frank O’Hara described as unmade phone […]

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Who are your people?

Most of us find our own voices only after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.  ~ Neil Gaiman I’ve been thinking lately about cultural traits and the multiple cultures we each belong to. The number and variety are surprising! I am, or used to be, a member of these cultures: Southwest Artist Writer […]

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Why free-write the first draft?

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” ~James Thurber “Rewriting in process is usually an excuse for not going on.” ~John Steinbeck I’m a big fan of free-writing the first draft, which means you don’t pick up your pen until you’re done – or at least you don’t look back and start revising until you […]

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Warm up with keywords

An essential in writing a flash memoir is refreshing your memory of the scene. Before you start writing, take a few moments to visualize the scene. Step through the physical environment, sequence of events, and your reactions. While doing this, make a list of keywords and phrases that capture the most distinct elements, emotions, and visual cues.  This […]

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Make it crackle with sound

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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Use distinct nouns & verbs

The more specific you are, the more universal you are. ~Nancy Hale A good trick for making your flash stories more compact and meaningful is to choose just the right nouns and verbs. When you’re referring to an orchard, what type of orchard is it – apple, pear, orange? When your character is walking, is […]

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Not My Favorite Job by Carolyn Curtis

I remember it was raining I remember going in the back door I remember feeling like I would never know enough I remember my boss always putting his hand on my shoulder I remember the other employees going out to lunch and not inviting me I remember my boss standing too close I remember being […]

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