It’s against our better judgment to poke at trouble. We try to warn ourselves and others by placing danger signs everywhere. Fiction demands that we ignore those signs, and as fiction-writers, we often have to remind ourselves to let characters linger a little longer in trouble for the benefit of the reader. Here’s one prompt that places a character in the center of trouble.
Tabloids sell because they call out your worst fears, obsessions, curiosities, and anxieties (eliciting the same sort of intrigue and horror that news stories do). But they’re removed from you because they’re far out in the distance. And because they’re not true. They’re dangerous, but you’re not in danger. Find the headline from the list below that most intrigues or resonates with you. Put aside your skepticism for the headline.
Holy Vision in Toilet Saves Gal from Suicide
Psychiatrists Treat Unhappy Ghosts
Bloodthirsty Squirrel Holds Entire Town Hostage
Drunk Swallows Bowling Ball
Man Wills His Estate Valued at 10 Million Dollars to His Imaginary Friend!
Write a flash fiction (less than 1000 words) that treats the headline seriously, pouring some aspect of your life into the conflict. Resist the urge to find an easy way out. Choose what you think is the toughest perspective from which to tell the story. Start in scene at the most painful moment and work toward epiphany.
Use the headline as the title.
Sarah Cedeño’s work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Pinch, The Baltimore Review, New World Writing, The Rumpus, Hippocampus Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Brockport, NY with her husband and two sons, and teaches writing at the College at Brockport. She’s the Editorial Director of the national literary magazine Clockhouse and holds an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont.
Read more about Sarah’s upcoming Introduction to Fiction workshop here: http://bit.ly/FictionIntroF02