Writing Wonder: Riff on a random Word

I’d like to share my ultra-favorite writing exercise with you. Pick up ...

The power of family stories

I’m resurrecting this post because the article cited is so affirming.  Affirmation ...

The Wheels of Fortune by Peter Hessler

This story perfectly captures the charm of a village and its people, ...

Writing Tips & Sample Stories

Summer writing prompts

I’ve been enjoying reading Abilgail Thomas’ book, Thinking About Memoir. It offers many succinct and thought provoking observations as well as a boat load of compelling writing prompts, and all in a slim 108 pages. One reviewer writes this perfect assessment: “If [you] aren’t afraid to dig deep, zero in on details, write an honest […]

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Create associations for your reader

This great advice is about the associations you create with the words you choose in your story, and the need for mindful precision. It’s focused on poets and adjectives, but applies equally to flash story writers and to nouns and verbs … Ted Kooser, in the Poetry Home Repair Manual, writes:  You may have been […]

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Blind your inner editor

I was talking about Flash Memoirs at my book club the other day and a fellow writer/reader threw out a brilliant idea: To stun your inner editor into giving you a moment’s peace, use a symbol font such as Wingdings, or change your font to white, while writing on your computer.  When you’re ready to review […]

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Ars Poetica, Sort Of by Kathleen Lewis

This is a great piece, published in Treehouse literary magazine, about writing … and feeling … and …   Ars Poetica, Sort Of by Kathleen Brewin Lewis Because you think your poetry has become too full of clear skies and morning birdsong, you begin breaking your pills in half. There’s a little line in the […]

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Best flash memoir collections

These are books I would classify as flash memoir collections and great reads: – I Remember by Joe Brainard (1975) – Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman (1995) – The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard (1998) – My Life as a List by Linda Rosenkrantz (1999) – Safekeeping: Some True Stories […]

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You know you’re a flash writer when …

- You get peevish reading a preamble. – You know eight synonyms for “short.” – You guzzle Brevity magazine like a morning cuppa joe. –  You can whack 2000 words down to 800 words in 10 minutes flat. –  You couldn’t write in passive voice to save your mother. –  You have 500 publishing credits. […]

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Moving Water, Tucson by Peggy Shumaker

This is a story I read aloud in Flash Memoir 101 class, and is the first piece in the Short Takes anthology. It’s a great example of making a story out of something small and beautifully illustrates the traits of good flash stories. If you like it I hope you’ll read more from Peggy Shumaker […]

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From vignettes to book

I’m pulling this post from July’12 back to the top of the blog because it’s such useful and inspiring information, and it was mentioned in today’s Nat’l Assoc of Memoir Writer’s telesummit. If you missed that, you’ll be able to download an audio file soon from —————————————– Guest post by Kathleen Pooler As I […]

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Free memoir telesummit on May 9, 2014

If you don’t know about it already, there’s a free memoir telesummit coming up on May 9, hosted by the Nat’l Assoc of Memoir Writers, starting at 10am PDT. There are four segments, each with a different speaker and topic, and you can pick & choose your favorites. I will be presenting Flash Memoirs 101 […]

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What makes a flash story?

Flash refers to a very short story. Think of them as elevator stories – a quick smile or flash of diamond, a peek of thigh and whiff of cologne. Read in five minutes, but remembered for a lifetime. You’ll find varying definitions of the length of a flash story, but 300-2000 words is common; a […]

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Writing Wonder: Letter to a Friend

This writing exercise teaches you how to skip the preamble and background detail, which you so often don’t have room for in a flash story, and head directly into the intimate detail that makes the story most interesting. … Think of a significant personal event that you shared with a good friend or family member. […]

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Sweet Sixteen by Gary Wilson

I read this flash story out loud in nearly every class I teach. I can’t believe I missed posting it here for so long. It’s included in the Flash Fiction Forward anthology, which I highly recommend – and am convinced contains many memoirs posing as fiction. There are so many things to love about this […]

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