Memories are frequently more like snapshots than movies. Most of my memories that feel story-rich are just flashes (Remember flashbulbs? That burst of light, that popping sound, the super-dark that instantly returned?) “Flash Memoir”–an approach that borrows techniques from the genre of flash fiction–is an excellent way to hone your ability to pay close attention, to write tight and make every word work its hardest, while exploring those “flashbulb” moments in your past.
In August, I return to teaching online workshops for Story Circle Network after taking a hiatus while I taught my online courses through the Association of Personal Historians’ education program. The first workshop I’m offering is “Flash Memoir” in a four-part version. The class has been popular here in Madison and I’m excited to bring it to an online audience.
What IS “Flash Memoir,” you ask? I’ll answer with a free preview from the first week’s lesson.
Flash Memoir essays are….
- Free of preambles. They start at the flashpoint–the moment when conflict ignites motion that drives the story forward.
- Scene-based—they frequently take place in one run of time, without jumping around.
- Observant—they tend to feature not the “I” but the “eye.”
- Insightful—Like a flashlight illuminating a dark corner, they explore something that provoked an insight.
- Specific—they stick with concrete, observable events and actions rather than abstract concepts.
- True—as a subgenre of creative nonfiction, Flash Memoir must uphold the nonfiction contract that what is reported actually happened.
Since 1997, Story Circle Network, a non-profit exclusively for women writers, has provided learning/writing opportunities in memoir, reminiscence, journaling, fiction, poetry, family stories, and more. I’ve known several of their teachers and am honored to be among the faculty.
Meanwhile, here’s a link to what I consider an excellent example of Flash Memoir right here on True Stories Well Told.
I hope you’re intrigued enough to join me in the workshop!
– Sarah White