How not to do flash fiction


The exercise in our Thursday night writing club was this. We were given a prompt, which is a line to begin writing with. After a minute or two of writing, the prompter interrupted us with another prompt, which we had to immediately insert into the story and continue writing. The idea was to divert our writing several times and possibly send us in directions we hadn’t planned on. The exercise lasted about six minutes, and there were four prompts in total. They were, “we forgot to collect”, “there there”, “it didn’t look good, that much was obvious”, and the last “just five more minutes”. Here’s what I came up with:


“We forgot to collect stamps. Comics, bottlecaps, toupees, sure. But we never got around to stamps,” Jimbo said.

“No stamps?” Frank said. “You must be kidding! They’re the only things worth collecting! I’ve got ‘em from…”

“There! There!”

“What?” Frank jumped at Jimbo’s shout. “Where?”

“A horned beetle! Now that’s worth—”

“Ahh!” Frank screamed, jumping up and batting the air.

“Ha ha! It’s just a little bug.” Jimbo picked up the terrified critter.

It didn’t look good. That much was obvious. “Yuck,” Frank said. “Kill it right now, or I’m leaving.” He was shaking.

“Not a chance. This is one of God’s creatures.”

“Well send it back to him.”

“Calm down. Look, he’s leaving. Just five more minutes.”

“No, now.”

“All right,” Jimbo said. He spoke to the bug. “You heard Frank.”

“Aw, I wasn’t going to hurt him,” the insect said.

“Go on,” Frank said. “Or else!”

Downcast, the bug marched out the door.

The room came alive, the bug’s cousins emerging from every nook and cranny. “Do we have to go too?” one of them said.

“No,” Frank said. “Only him.”

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