Flash! Writing the Very Short Story

John Dufresne. Norton, $15.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-35235-1
Dufresne (I Don’t Like Where This Is Going) has authored eight novels and two previous writing guides, and that background comes through in this assured and canny guide to writing very short stories. His discussions of plot, setting, characterization, and other areas are sometimes straightforwardly informative, while at other times they read like stories in their own right. A particularly valuable ingredient of his advice is the inclusion of detailed, encouraging, and relatively unique writing prompts for those interested in creating flash fiction, such as a prompt for sci-fi writers to “make it 451 words in honor of Ray Bradbury.” These prompts are supplemented by well-chosen quotations and full samples of works by other authors, such as Merle Drown’s single-sentence flash-fiction piece “Suffused with Pleasure”: “She bit him, quick, sharp, precisely, and before he knew it, he said, ‘I love you.’ ” Dufresne’s axioms about fiction compositions tend to the assertive and are generally insightful, but sometimes arguable—“We aren’t inspired to write. We write and then we are inspired,” for example. Nonetheless, for established and aspiring authors alike, as well as for readers simply interested in better understanding the writing process in digest form, this book will be illuminating, instructive, and, yes, inspiring. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/09/2017
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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