Sick Of This Cold and Stir-Crazy? A Friday prompt from Going Short:

Are you stir crazy and sick of being cold?

Are you losing it a little bit? (me!)

Going Short is ready to snuggle and do some writing.

“I can’t get enough of your love, babe.”

Prompt: Bribing the Muse: On Your Mark, Get Set…

A great trick to create urgency in a flash fiction story is by using another constraint: Time.

For almost a decade now, all my college classes have begun with a 10-minute timed writing. Timed writing is nothing new. We know that it helps us transition us into the writing space, like stretching before a workout. We know that it forces us to stay present and dig deeper—writing past where we might have naturally given up. And we know that keeping the pen moving quickly, without crossing things out or rereading, is a great way to evade the internal critic and uncover fresh ideas.

But I discovered something else through years of this practice: 10 minutes of writing without stopping is also the perfect amount of time to draft a flash fiction story idea from start to finish.

It makes sense: Flash fiction is defined by a word constraint, so why not create under a time constraint? Having that clock ticking while you furiously try to reach the end of an idea gives the piece a natural sense of urgency. And writing from the beginning to the end in one sitting also creates a sense of continuity—we see the end coming as we embark on the journey.

You can use timed writing in many ways. For instance, you can:

  • Set the timer while writing to a prompt.
  • Set the timer when you’re feeling stuck and don’t know what to write about.
  • Set the timer and rewrite a “flat” story from scratch while the clock chases you to the finish line (my favorite)

And as a daily practice it’s even better. Besides, you can do anything for 10 mins, right?

Because only you can write your stories.

Happy flashing and stay warm, friends!

Love, Nancy

P.S. Want your own copy?

Order Going Short from Ad Hoc Fiction

Order Going Short Amazon/Kindle on Amazon UK  or Amazon USA 

Or get a signed Going Short from me here

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Flash Fiction is The Cupcake of Literature: a Smokelong Interview

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m resharing this fun interview between me and April Bradley.

Here’s a little excerpt:

Read the whole thing on Smokelong Quarterly.

April Bradley: You help readers understand in Going Short that “flash fictions are stories under 1,000 words and that flash fiction is always telling a story, even if much of that story is implied.” You also talk about constraints—“Embracing the constraint is the true gift of flash fiction.”— and how flash has “created a new sort of genre freedom.” How does the gift of constraint and “narrative contortions” create something unique and yet recognizable as flash? Is there something more to flash than mere word count and a sense of story?

Nancy Stohlman: I love the nuance of this question. And I will defer to metaphor and ask: Why do we love cupcakes? I mean—they have the exact same ingredients as cake; they both have milk, eggs, butter, flour, frosting. Why not just have a slice of cake?

Flash fiction is the cupcake of literature. And it’s a totally different experience than a 3-layer wedding cake. Yes, they both have plot, character, story, poetry. But for me, the gift is in the intention. I love cakes and cupcakes, but I love them differently and for different reasons, and they require different visions and skills. Yes, we could produce gallons of batter and pour it into big sheet pans, and that is glorious. But we can also focus, shrink, and condense a tiny bit of our creative batter into a perfect circle, the delicate precision of a story you can hold in the palm of your hand.

April Bradley: How does microfiction differ?

Well, I guess that would make micro fiction the cake pop. One bite, and one bite only. But wow—what a bite.

READ MORE HERE

“Going Short” featured in Reader Views Book Reviews

Posted on  by Reader Views

“an energetic, comprehensive guide….If you like the short form, as a reader or writer, make sure Going Short is part of your must-read library.”

Readers VIews

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (Master Class Series)

Nancy Stohlman
Ad Hic Fiction (2020)
ISBN: 9781912095797
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (01/2021)

“Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (Master Class Series)” by Nancy Stohlman, is an energetic, comprehensive guide that teaches writers how to write flash fiction.

Some readers like long, luxurious stories, while others like them short and sweet. Writers are no different. Some enjoy writing the long novel, while others enjoy the shorthand style of flash fiction. Some, of course, prefer to do both. If you’re a writer who’s never dabbled in flash fiction but wants to, or one who has but would like to take a deeper dive into the process and take your writing to the next level, then this book is all you really need. Stohlman takes you through the basics–what flash fiction is, what it isn’t, and what it could be when done well. Anyone can write a super short story. But does it still make an impact? Is it as entertaining and moving as if you’d written it long? This book will help you explore that and will give you hands-on instruction on how to make your flash fiction the best it can be.

We writers have all heard the advice “write tight” or “write lean.” But flash fiction is more than just being concise. It’s creating a meaningful story in a short amount of space–still satisfying. Still moving. It has nothing to do with short attention spans or a lack of time. It means you enjoy really short fiction, for its own sake.

“Death Row Hugger” now a short film by Cameron LeeWong

I’m not sure if there is anything more amazing than seeing your story become a short film, and Cameron LeeWong did an amazing job of capturing everything I wanted to say with this story. Thank you!

I do not know the names of the actors in this film, but please contact me for credit!

“Death Row Hugger” has been one of my most popular stories over the years. It was first published in 2014 in The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories and reprinted in 2018 the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction.

Read the full story text here: