I love creating lists. Especially when under duress, making a list gives me a feeling of control. There’s often a lot of subtext living in the contents of a list. I’ve come across old lists and though, whoa, what was going on when I wrote this?
Think of how much “story” you can convey, with very few words, in a simple list. Flash fiction, a form that lends itself so beautifully to innovation of form, allows you to do just that.
So that is your prompt for today: Create a story entirely or almost entirely in the form of a list. Then send it off to McSweeney’s because they love a good list story. 😉
Here are a few ideas to get your going:
- A list of “tips” for various things, i.e. “16 Tips to Stretch Out an Essay” by Lucas Gardner
- Consider making a list of instructions from an “expert.”
- What would a Google search list tell you about a character and his predicament? (Yesterday I googled “health benefits of whiskey” for instance.)
- What would a packing list suggest to a reader about a character’s plans? (i.e., a bikini, suntan lotion, camera, condoms vs. $1000 cash, a wig, a photo, and a revolver).
- You could convey quite a lot of story in a character’s to-do list. Maybe give two characters’ to-do lists and have them play off each other.
- Your list may be annotated for an extra layer of pathos or humor. A glossary is a kind of a list. My “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild” is a list story.