Flash Memoir: Is that a thing?

Maybe you’ve heard about flash fiction–that genre of complete short stories in less than 1000 words. It’s been around since prehistory–given the difficulty of writing by chiseling on a cave wall, or later, the scarcity of papyrus–it’s no surprise brevity was prized. More recently, the form has enjoyed rising popularity in rough proportion to the Internet’s rise and the fall of our attention spans.

flash fiction ngram

Memories are frequently more like snapshots than movies, I thought, so why not apply the techniques of flash fiction to our own life stories?  I enjoy writing very-short reminiscences, as a warm-up to deeper work, or a means of finding where “plump fish of memory” are lurking (to use James Birren’s wonderful phrase).

There’s something here worth exploring: “Going small” allows us to focus on the moments in which life is truly lived, absorbing lessons that would be hard to find in a larger narrative sweep. So I developed a curriculum and I’ll be teaching it through Wheelhouse Studios, April 5 and 12.

We will challenge ourselves to develop stories concisely, concretely, with crisp precision, just as we would if writing flash fiction. But we will accept the challenge of creative nonfiction, meaning we will work within the boundaries of emotional and factual truth. We will write short, true stories. No other rules apply.

If you are interested in this class–and you’re in Madison–here’s what you need to know:

  • When: 2 meetings, Tuesdays, April 5 and 12,  7-9pm
  • Location: Social Science Building, UW Campus, 1180 Observatory Drive
  • Cost: $29.50.
  • To register, click here.

If you’re not in Madison but would be interested in seeing this class offered online, let me know–email me at sarah.white@firstpersonprod.com.

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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2 Responses to Flash Memoir: Is that a thing?

  1. I’d be interested in a virtual class! Dhyan Atkinson, Boulder CO


  2. Sarah, I am interested in your thoughts on Flash Memoir, to help me improve my short short stories and the encouragement I give to others to write them. By vocation I am an engineer and technical writer. By mentorship I am an engineering story teller and family history writer. I promote 60 second stories to encourage people to know their ancestors. I’ll be searching for your materials. http://www.ancestorclips.com


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