This blog post was written by Communications Intern, Tylah Gantt. A sneak peek into what we learn in our workshops, please enjoy this “how to”! Our fall workshops will start in October and run monthly through the spring. Take a look back at this year’s dystopian flash fiction workshop.
If you’re anything like me, you occasionally use fiction writing as a form of self-led escapism. As I scrolled through some old Girls Write Now curricula and blog posts, a particular workshop theme stopped me in my clicking tracks: Dystopian flash fiction. I couldn’t help but imagine what a treat it must have been for mentor and mentee pairs to participate in such a fun workshop. While I wasn’t fortunate enough to get in on the act, that shouldn’t stop you from penning an awesome piece!
Before we begin, let’s go over the terms. Chances are you’re already familiar with the dystopian genre: think 1984, Brave New World, The Giver, Hunger Game, Divergent, etc. But you might not be as familiar with flash fiction. Flash fictions are brief, but deceptively complex stories, told in fewer than 1000 words. Because of its concise nature, when writing flash fictions authors should focus on every detail, image, rhythm and word choice. Your word choice and sentence structure should convey vivid imagery and deep meaning. Now, without further ado, let’s start writing!
How To Write Dystopian Flash Fiction
Step 1– Place yourself in a dystopian mindset. Dystopian fiction is otherworldly, so to write it, we have to think outside of our known world. To start your piece, choose one of the following sentences and write a story for 10 minutes that is set in, or is about, this dystopian world.
Scanning the yellow and orange seats of a Brooklyn bound N train I realized that I could see into people’s souls.
His slurred words hardened before expelling thick tarry pebbles from his dying brain.
Like counterproductive clockwork the blue light appears and the entire city goes black.
I’ve gotten so used to cleaning up other people’s messes that I’ve forgotten how to tidy my own.
Step 2– Take the story that you’ve written and edit it down to about three paragraphs, roughly 500 words. Work to extract the important elements of the story and make sure it has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Step 3– Analyze each remaining sentence. Does it add to your plot progression? Does it have necessary imagery? Does this sentence add to the overall value of the story? If the answer is no, delete it.
Step 4– Reread what’s left of your story. Paying close attention to imagery and plot, smooth out and refine your story. Add any detail necessary for clarity.
Step 5– The title should pack a punch! Reread your flash fiction and think of an impactful engaging title.
Step 6– Celebrate! You’ve just written your own dystopian flash fiction!