9781884910272 / 1884910270

Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes


Publisher:Story Pr



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About the book:

Gather your writing utensils, set the timer to five minutes, and write a short short story. Do not think. Do not judge. Just write. You'll be amazed with what you come up with. The rest, says Roberta Allen, is merely a matter of rewriting and refining. There's something very appealing about the short short form (defined by critic Irving Howe as "a moment rendered in its wink of immediacy" and limited here to 1,000 words). As in poetry, every word and punctuation mark counts. Your characters' histories have to be delivered, if at all, with just a sliver of language. The form is elegant in the way a mathematical proof can be elegant--beautiful and economical--and the examples Allen uses, from the works of Anton Chekhov, Carolyn Forché, Mark Strand, and others, are sublime. (The examples from her students are less compelling, and one does tire of trying to keep her many students straight.)

The center section of the book comprises a nice selection of exercises to get you started. One involves writing stories from photographs; another has you choose one item from a list (such as "a broken promise," "something that was stolen," "a party," "something that hasn't happened yet," "a child," and "a secret") and write a story about it.

The third part of the book, in which Allen makes an argument for using her method to write a novel in five-minute bites, is shakier. Writing longer fiction generally requires some kind of flow that this method doesn't allow for. Using this method for that purpose would require that a lot of energy to be spent creating connective tissue. Even still, the five-minute method would be useful for tapping the unconscious, working through problem spots, and getting going in the morning. After all, doesn't that page look much more inviting once it has some words on it?

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