Experiments in Flash

Online Course with Amanda Saint

Experiments in Flash looks at the craft in an entirely new way. A truly unique approach to flash fiction, and Amanda’s always encouraging, in-depth feedback will boost your confidence and creativity!

— Eleonora Balsano

Next start date: 18th April 2022 or choose the work alone option to start anytime

How the universe works  and what we’re here for is a question that humans have asked themselves forever. Spiritual traditions and science all have ideas about the answers to these questions and we’ll be using some of them as inspiration for experimenting with flash fiction.

Group Course Cost: £150

Spaces: 12
Work Alone Cost: JUST £60!

Course outline

The course is made up of 6 workshops featuring a mixture of text and video with a forum for chatting with the other writers on the course and the tutor, Amanda Saint. You can also post your work from each workshop for feedback.

The work alone course has no forum or feedback just the course content for you to work through at your own pace. You get access for 4 months.

Workshop 1 – The Koch Snowflake

The Koch snowflake is a fractal curve and one of the earliest fractals to have been described. It continually increases in complexity and we’ll be looking at ways we can use this in narrative structure for both standalone flashes and a series of linked ones.

Workshop 2 – Cycles of Time

Recent scientific discoveries are suggesting that our 5,000 year civilisation is just the latest in a long line of ones that came before it. That humanity is on a repetitive cycle. We’ll look at these cycles of time and how they can form a series of linked flashes with a cyclical structure.

Workshop 3 – Holographic Universe

Could we be living in a simulated reality that’s made up of holographs? Many scientists believe so, as do ancient spiritual traditions. In which case, our life is built on a series of codes. This workshop will look at how stories could be structured and inspired by codes and holograms to create a new structure for our flash fictions.

Workshop 4 – Hopi Prophecies and the Alternative Path

The indigenous, North American Hopi tribe has a series of rock carvings that predict the sixth mass extinction which humanity has precipitated. But they also show an alternative path where we turn things around. We’ll use this idea of alternative paths as inspiration for a series of linked flash fictions.

Workshop 5 – Fractal Repetitions

Fractals are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. These fractal repetitions play out in our lives over and over again and there’s a theory that there’s a point between each repetition that is the optimum moment for change. We’ll look at these moments in time and how they can be used for characters to make the changes they need to, or not.

Workshop 6 – The Power of Consciousness

The idea that our conscious and sub-conscious thoughts can directly influence the outcomes and reality of the world we experience is another theory gaining scientific ground. This workshop will play with this idea and to see how our characters can use this to create the world they want.

Course tutor – Amanda Saint

Amanda started Retreat West in 2012 and expanded to include the award-winning Retreat West Books in 2017. She has been designing and teaching online courses, and live workshops, for many years and has worked as an editor on hundreds of manuscripts. 

Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her second novel, Remember Tomorrow, published in March 2019 to critical acclaim.

Amanda’s stories have been widely published; longlisted in the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition, Fish Flash Fiction Prize, and Ink Tears Short Story Prize; shortlisted for the Flash 500; and won the Editor’s Choice Prize at 101 Words. She’s currently editing her novella-in-flash and about half way through writing a flash collection. 

What writers have said about the course

Experiments in Flash looks at the craft in an entirely new way. You will work on stories with structures borrowed from different philosophies, ancient and modern, and imagine how words can build worlds far from our own. A truly unique approach to flash fiction, and Amanda’s always encouraging, in-depth feedback will boost your confidence and creativity!

— Eleonora Balsano

I chose this course because I was aware that I was getting into a rut of always writing about the same things in the same way, and it opened so many new doors for me. Some of the course material was truly mind-bending, but under Amanda’s guidance and gentle critiquing I was able to look at things from a new perspective, and I now have a raft of new approaches to language, topics and structure to make use of. I particularly enjoyed the open, collaborative, sharing nature of the course.

Hilary Ayshford

Being new to Flash Fiction, I was taking a big jump enrolling in the Experiments in Flash Course. Yikes! Fractals!! Cycles of Time! All these new ideas felt a bit scary. The course was definitely a challenge to my ways of thinking AND it was fun. I appreciated the group  members’ supportive and thoughtful comments. Amanda’s feedback was spot on for me as a beginning flash writer — enthusiastic, encouraging. The course was a spark to keep me growing, to keep me writing.”

— Fran Turner

This course is fascinating and thought provoking. Amanda took us through some interesting concepts and we discussed how we could apply these to our writing. It really helped with identifying how to be innovative with story structure, which has led to some great stories both from me and my fellow course mates. The course itself is well written and Amanda is knowledgeable, enthusiastic and supportive. Highly recommended.

— Maria Thomas

I was delighted to win the Retreat West ‘Experiments in Flash’ course with Amanda Saint and I was impressed by the supportive, attentive and inspiring learning environment created, where we could learn, write and check-in at our own pace, and engage with great content which prompted so many ideas and stories, including ‘The Animals of Göbekli Tepe’, which I was thrilled to have published by The Phare, recorded on their podcast and nominated for Best Microfiction 2022, all of which couldn’t have happened without the course.

— Rosaleen Lynch

I haven’t enjoyed a course as much as this for ages. It was really well put together and well paced, with Amanda creating stimulating content for reflection and inspiration and then leading fascinating discussions after the writing. Loved how the course illuminated not only story ideas but story structure. Highly recommended. I’d do it again!

— Rachel Rivett