Writing Tips & Sample Stories

I Quit Smoking (Again) Today by Johnny Moore

Look what I found at Squalorly lit magazine this week. This well-crafted story by Johnny Moore is also a good study in the comingling of present and past tense, and repetition.  Be sure to read the whole story to see what I mean.  Here are a couple excerpts: My parents used to smoke with life […]

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Go small to go big later

Memories, moments, scenes, nothing longer than a few pages, some only a line or two. These bits and pieces kept flying out of me, and I kept writing them down. ~Abigail Thomas, author of Thinking About Memoir With most projects, I find that breaking them down into small specific pieces makes for greater success, and […]

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Writing Wonder: Wandering List

With this one very easy exercise, you can grab hold of memories you didn’t know you had and generate many flash stories.  It’s also fun to do this exercise in a group well-known to you – they will add flavor to your entries, and vice versa, and remind you of things you had forgotten about. […]

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Make Love Not War by Sarah White

This month’s featured story is an intoxicating tale of cultural encounter, romance, and missed opportunity by Sarah White, president of the Association of Personal Historians.  It will likely remind you of your own ‘un coup de telephone’ which I hope you’ll write about post haste. This story was just released in the Seasons of our […]

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13 writerly quotes for inspiration

These are just a few of my favorite quotes about writing, which I hope provide some inspiration for you too.  For a tasty endless supply, browse #writequote on Twitter. Their stories are not so different from my stories and their healing aids my healing. ~Len Leatherwood My writer self is braver than the rest of […]

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Top 5 posts of 2013

It’s always interesting to review the blog stats at the end of the year to see what has risen to the top: 1.  This post, at the heart of it all, was the most widely read for the second year in a row.      What makes a flash story? 2.  This post garnered the most […]

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Tiny memoirs

I’m a big fan of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and especially their Tiny Truths feature, which are micro-memoir tweets. There’s plenty of debate about whether these meet story criteria – what do you think? If you love these too, I hope you’ll participate: On Twitter, follow @cnfonline and tweet your 130-character stories to #cnftweet.

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Sin by Max Garland

It hovered in the glowing tips of my unmarried uncles’ cigarettes. And in the red, rounded tops of lipstick tubes. It smelled, not sweet like lilies of the valley or hyacinths, but more like the insides of purple irises or, stranger, like azaleas or hawthorn blossoms—not bad, but definitely not all that good. It sounded […]

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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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Holidays make great flash stories

From snowy heights to palmy beaches, and the chemo chair to Santa’s lap, the holidays provide great fodder for flash story writing. You can get a lot of mileage out of the oddest family members, the best presents, the unforgettable faux pas, and the magnanimous surprises if you pay attention. Take notice of the rare […]

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10 secret themes in lifewriting

In her book Leaving a Trace, Alexandra Johnson poses the theory that our journals contain ten categories of life patterns, which correspond to ways we engage or withdraw in life:  longing, fear, mastery, intentional silences, key influences, hidden lessons, secret gifts, challenges, unfinished business, untapped potential. This idea sent me back to my many journals […]

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