Tuesday, January 24, 2006

5 minute stories

The intent of most of these prompts is to get you started. This prompt should lead to an entire story in 5 minutes! Okay, it won't be War and Peace but it will have the essence of story: character, conflict and change.

In Roberta Allen's Fast Fiction her advice on how to do it is to just do it :-) And that it will get easier with practice.

Set the timer for 5 minutes and turn off your conscious self. Select a prompt without thinking much about it. (There are 300 of them in the book. They are nearly all universal concepts and can be applied to any genre of fiction.) Then start writing.

(As always, if the timer goes off and you're on a roll, keep going. If you're done early, stop. The timer is intended to help you, not be a chain.) I suspect my first attempts at this are going to be rough since I like longer fiction!)
Write a story about a will.
Write a story about glass.
Write a story about a disaster
Write a story about a view.
Write a story about something trivial.
Write a story about a rite.

Write a story about a fake.
Write a story about a riddle.
Write a story about a rule.
Write a story about a battle.
Write a story about a souvenir.
Write a story about a scar.

Write a story about a rogue.
Write a story about a holiday
Write a story about a fantasy.
Write a story about a demon.
Write a story about dread.
Write a story about hunting.

Write a story about a lie.
Write a story about something that really happened.
Write a story about an animal.
Write a story about an object that has been lost.
Write a story about leaving.
Write a story about a wish.
More
There's a genre of fiction that's expanded recently called short short fiction. Roberta Allen described it as stories you can read during the commercial break. (So with TiVo, is the next genre micro fiction we can read while we fast forward past the commercials ;-))

Character: If you need help with a character, here's some questions to ask. (You may only need to answer one question. They're all different ways of asking the same thing.)
  • What does your character yearn for? (As Robert Olen Butler expresses it.)
  • What does she desire more than anything else in the world?
  • What does she fear losing more than anything else in the world?
  • What does she want back that she lost?
  • What is she conflicted about? In other words, what two incompatible things does she want?
Conflict: Then create a roadblock. Something or someone or something within herself that's between the character and what she wants.

Resolution: Then have something change by the end. (Maybe she gets it. Maybe she realizes she didn't need it. Maybe she realizes she can't ever have it.)

Quotes from Roberta Allen's Fast Fiction
"Before you do the exercises, you need to give up all your notions about writing well."

"Decide beforehand that whatever you put on the page will be okay. Give yourself freedom. Allow yourself to write whatever comes up. Some of the thoughts going through your mind may seem silly or nonsensical. Include them anyway. Let go of the critic before you start."

"Forget yourself. If you listen to the chatter in your mind, you are not fully engaged in the writing. If you have a goal, such as writing well, for example, you will interfere with the process by trying too hard. The last thing you want to do is try. Instead, let things happen. Don't impose your will. Don't take charge."

"The last thing you want to do in the beginning is judge your work. This doesn't mean that judgment plays no part in the process. I does, but not in the beginning and not in the usual sense. What you will be judging is energy rather than quality and you will only do that after you've finished writing."
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