Adventures in Flashing

Retreat West’s first ‘Fantastic Flashing’ course ran in September. Today, I want to share some thoughts on flash fiction writing and my experience taking the new online course.

Readers of flash fiction will know there is something slightly magical about the format. The word constraint forces the writer to breathe life into every word. The slightest wrong turn and it can fall flat. However, get it right, and it can be a transformative experience for the reader. That’s how I feel about it anyway!

Despite being a fan of the genre, prior to the course, I had written only a few pieces less than one thousand words and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I began with the simple goal of writing as much as possible over the two-week period in which the course runs.

In terms of the course format, each day, a different topic of the genre is tackled, with a short piece of flash to read for inspiration and some prompts to get you writing. I found the daily email contained enough information to get me thinking but very manageable, so didn’t take up valuable writing time.

Over the first few days, I managed to write three or four pieces per day and was surprised at how freeing it was. I came up with plenty of new ideas but also managed to get down some old ones that I’d felt too changeling to grabble with in longer form… The beauty of the format is that very little time is required before you have a sense of whether a piece is working or not. If it’s not working, start over, move on, or try a different prompt.

Writers on the course have access to a private Facebook group to share their work. It was extremely valuable to see what others were coming up with using the same prompts. My fellow writers were very helpful and supportive too, providing encouragement and useful feedback. This gave me a little extra push to write something I was happy to share each day. Particularly on some of the more challenging days.

By the end of the two weeks, I’d written countless flash fictions and even come up with a few short story ideas to develop further. I would recommend this course especially to anyone interested in flash fiction or short story writing. It’s been invaluable in generating new ideas and learning quite a bit about structure and other writing techniques.

There are two more Fantastic Flashing courses scheduled to run in October and November. October’s starts next Monday (15th)! Find out more details here.

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