July 10, 2019–August 21, 2019
The Very Short Story
Nathan Leslie writes, “Life is ambiguity, not serendipitous plotting. In this way, flash fiction is actually truer to life than other literary forms.” He goes on to use Joyce Carol Oates’ comparison of flash to Robert Frost’s description of a poem: “a structure of words that consumes itself as it unfolds, like ice melting on a stove.”
What does this look like on the page? How can we create a visceral reaction in the reader, make that ice melt, in as few words as possible?
Defined and named variously—“napkin fiction,” “flash fiction,” “dribble,” “drabble,” “smoke-long,” “micro-fiction”—the very short story is currently enjoying more platforms than ever before, irresistibly sharable in today's internet culture.
In this class, students of all levels will practice writing stories that range in length from one hundred to five hundred words. Through reading stellar examples of the form and engaging with weekly prompts, students will experiment with building compelling stories without the constraints of longer narrative. Students will be encouraged to find new ways to affect a reader through powerful images, smart surprise, and unique details, in as few words as possible.