Writing Flash: Reading Workshop Discussion Questions

We hope you can join us for our reading workshop this Wednesday, July 13 at 7 p.m. We’re discussing strategies for writing better flash fiction and nonfiction. Don’t worry: if you’re short on time, so are these stories. And, all of them are available to read online! For those of you who like to prepare in the parking garage or on your way up the elevator to the Capital Club: you totally can.

We’re reading two fiction stories from the anthology Flash Fiction International. Sovetskoye Shampanskoye (Berit Ellingsen) reads like a poetic abstract to an international crime thriller, and shows just how much you can actually communicate in a limited space. Please Hold Me the Forgotten Way (H.J. Shepard) is a quieter snapshot of a moment in time for its two characters.

We’re also reading two flash essays from Brevity, a flash nonfiction journal: Roots by M. Sausun and Naked  by Alyssa Quinn.

Below are a few discussion questions to think about while you read. Then join us Wednesday to figure out how to fit a world into 1,000 words or less.

This event is free and open to the public, and you do not need to be a CCC member to attend. We’ll meet at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club. Get directions here.

Never been to a reading workshop? Check out our FAQ, and feel free to contact the workshop moderator with any questions.

Flash Fiction Discussion Questions

These apply to every story. Answer them all four times if you’re an overachiever, or cherry-pick to your liking. It’s okay.

  • Are these complete stories? What elements are necessary for a story to feel whole? Do these stories contain all of those elements, either explicit or implicit?
  • What are the most powerful sentences in each story? Why?
  • Titles become very important in flash—they really account for a significant percentage of the word count. How do the titles of each story further our understanding?
  • What is omitted in each story? What is included? Why do you think the author made those choices?
  • What does the story gain by its brevity? What is lost?
  • What tricks do the authors use to convey information in few words? What specific words can you find that are doing lots of work?
  • How much do you actually know about the characters in each story? How much more do you guess about the characters, and how does the author influence your assumptions?
  • In the nonfiction essays, the author’s voice (or the “I” of the story—the one who is speaking) takes on a special importance. It’s really this voice that distinguishes the nonfiction essay from fiction. How does this voice influence the story being told?