Weekend Writing Workout – “Postcard” Fiction

A few years ago I got uber-inspired when I read about a contest sponsored by the Writers’ Union of Canada (not to be confused with the Writers Guild of Canada). The contest is called the Postcard Story Contest and it’s open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants (sorry, you non Canucks and non Canuck-landed peeps).

The challenge is “to create a dramatic, short, snappy piece in only 250 words. You can use humour, poetry, dialogue…anything goes.” Of course I love a good challenge, so I decided to write a postcard poem every day for 10 days. I figured if I wrote 10 I was bound to like at least one of them.

This type of fiction is often called Flash Fiction or Micro Fiction.

Keeping it simple, because it’s the end of the summer, your workout this weekend is to write 3 flash fiction stories (250 words or less).

If you have no idea how to begin the story, I’ve supplied you with several start lines below. You can also just randomly pick a line from a book you’re reading.

When I want to write a flash fiction story, I usually just crank out a bunch of first lines over and over until one inspires me and I jump into that story. That’s why I have all these leftover first lines which I’m giving to YOU absolutely FREE.

Possible First Lines:

She packed everything except the salt and pepper shakers.

He was the biggest kid in the class at 310 lbs.

As soon as he had mailed the letter, he regretted having done so.

When he awoke from his dream, he had the answer.

If she was going to leave him, it was now or never.

There was only one person left on her Christmas list.

I buried the dog on Monday.

The zoo was completely empty.

He trembled as he walked up to the blackboard.
Sample Postcard Story:

Final Chapter

When he awoke from his dream, he had the answer. The final chapter for his book. A way to end it that was not contrived, not maudlin… a way to imply “happily ever after,” but not in fairy-tale manner, in a way anyone could believe might happen. He stumbled out of bed. It was 3:15 am. Where was his laptop… no, forget the laptop, this had to be written in ink, writer’s blood, it had to flow like his dream… his dream… He had been dreaming of Samantha. Of how she had looked at 17 and he was fresh from the Navy. He had met her at a café. She was a waitress studying art history. He was a writer disguised as a servant of the government. She saw right through him. He’d left poems on napkins for her. He’d asked her to marry him by writing the words on her bathroom mirror. She’d said yes in red lipstick. He stumbled through the hallway, bathed in strangely green light. Without his glasses on, it looked as if he were underwater. The walls breathed like gills. He didn’t remember the house having so many pictures. Ghostly figures in large frames followed him until he reached his office. The door was closed. The doorknob so cold it caught him off guard. Then the smell, subtle, yet unmistakable, the perfume Samantha had worn every day for 50 years. He opened the door and was enveloped in the light.

~   ~   ~   ~

If you want, please share your postcard stories in the comment section or with a link to your blog.

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