Kathy fish, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Bonus Unexpected Sabbatical: March 21

Okay, here’s one for the Saturday crowd. I posted this in last year’s Fast Flash Reunion Extravaganza: One thing that is fun to do is to weave facts from other disciplines into your flash fiction (science, art, history, welding, spelunking). I’ve seen this in the marvelous work of Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Tania Hershman to name just a couple.

A human brain cell has the ability to hold 5 times more information than the Encyclopedia.

One of my favorite short stories that does this is “Body Language” by Diane Schoemperlen. I’ve been unable to find it online, but it’s in her collection by the same name and in BASS 1998. It weaves facts about the human body around a story of a couple’s troubled marriage and it’s stunning. (also includes Grey’s Anatomy type illustrations).

It does interesting things to weave a factual voice into an otherwise emotional story for counterbalance. Your facts may serve as metaphors. Or you may use a “borrowed form” from another discipline to tell your story.

Anyway! Your prompt is to do just this in the space of a flash length piece. Consider using the segmented or mosaic form for this. I’ve lifted some science facts below from the internet (so reword them a bit if you use them), but you can also find your own, from science or anything else. Consider including completely made up facts, too!

Fun Facts:

Bats always turn left when leaving a cave. 

The heart of a shrimp is located in its head.

It is possible to hypnotize a frog by placing it on its back and gently stroking its stomach.

The Gulf of California is a spreading zone – many millions of years from now, it will be an ocean.

People who wade into the Dead Sea automatically float. Dissolved salts make the water so dense, humans are less dense in contrast and so float.

A human brain can generate electricity and energy when we are awake and therefore can light up a bulb. It operates on the same amount of power of 10 watt light bulb.

A pregnant woman dreams most about three things, frogs, worms and potted plants. Other than this, due to hormones, women also dream about water or even have sexual and violent dreams.

The brain is capable of surviving for 5 to 6 minutes only if it doesn’t get oxygen after which it dies.

The average heart is the size of a fist in an adult.

Christmas day is the most common day of the year for heart attacks to happen.

Nancy Stohlman, Uncategorized, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Bonus Unexpected Sabbatical: March 20

“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious s***” ~Doc Brown, Back to the Future

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I’ve talked with many people lately who are thinking about the future: what might our new world look like? It’s fertile material for all your sci-fi leaners, but it’s also just an interesting question. Will society go virtual like Ready Player One? Will we someday take virtual vacations (or virtual writing retreats!) like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall? Or will the Terminator show up with a message for us from the future?

So…let’s have some fun with our imaginations. Who knows–the future could be amazing.

Write a story in which your character receives a message from the future.

Of course what this message is, and how they receive it, is up to you.

Have fun with it!

Kathy fish, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Bonus Unexpected Sabbatical: March 19

Let’s feel the power today, friends! I don’t know about you, but I could use a Super Hero right now. To that end, I want you to consider… this sheep:

“This sheep escaped a farm and spent 6 years in the mountains, during which time he grew 60 pounds of wool. Wolves tried to eat him, but their teeth could not penetrate the floof. You don’t have to turn hard to survive the wolves, just be really, really soft and fluffy.”

Your prompt for today:

Create a character who has an UNEXPECTED skill/quality/feature that makes him or her or it INVINCIBLE. Your flash can be funny or absurd or terrifying or dramatic, but create a sort of Unexpected Super Hero and set up some obstacles for them. Let them slay dragons (or pandemics). Pit them up against adversity and let them show us what they’re made of (even if it’s floof)!

Bonus points if your Super Hero is an animal because animals rock! Go forth and write!

Nancy Stohlman, Uncategorized, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Bonus Unexpected Sabbatical: March 18

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the cat. ‘We’re all mad here.’ ~ Lewis Carroll

I’m sure the world is feeling pretty mad to you right now. One of the reasons I love absurdity in art is because I believe when we stop looking for TRUTH with the capital T, when we embrace the madness, we’re able to see the more subtle, more real, and usually more potent truths bleeding through the surface of “silly” or “weird.”

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SO…let’s enter the madness and embrace the weird.

Write a real story, something that happened to you or someone you know that was so ___________(insert adjective here) that no one would believe it’s true.

BUT, when you write it, do not stay bound to TRUTH with a capital T. Instead, invite the story to get even weirder, allow exaggeration and hyperbole to take it in strange directions, and see if something even more interesting starts peeking through.

Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

Bonus Unexpected Sabbatical Prompt: March 17

How are you feeling today? Maybe you feel like I do: Anxious, fraught with unease and uncertainty. It’s a feeling we normally seek to escape, right? Today I’m asking you to lean into your uncertainty and use it in your writing.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart…live in the question.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

Your prompt then is this:

Maybe have a bit of fun with the rarely used omniscient POV. Adopt an odd all-seeing voice perhaps. Then give us a character who is mired in uncertainty. Shit’s about to go down, either dramatically or more subtly. The uncertainty will be deeply uncomfortable for your character, but deliciously compelling for your reader. Your first line should go something like this:

“[Character name] doesn’t know [about the thing that’s about to happen to the world or to herself]…”

Take it from there. Go where the writing takes you. Set off without a map or compass or plan. Lean into uncertainty in today’s practice..