(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)
This session is called ‘Elsie Ethel Court’.
If you read on, you’ll soon see why. It could be an exciting session if you have a person you think about a lot and if you’d like to create something in writing to express your thoughts about that person.
I suppose the first task is to find a person to write about.
Alive? Dead? Family member? Friend? Famous? Not famous? It doesn’t even have to be a person you like …
All you do is write a short piece about a person who is important to you.
The ‘stimulus’ to this session is a photograph (see above) and a short piece of text. The text is under 250 words, it took about 10 minutes to write + 5 minutes proof reading / editing time. It was done using random thoughts and a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ method.
Born in 1900
She was born in 1900. Amazing in itself. She’s dead now, of course, but I remember her every day. I called her ‘nana’. She came on a Friday with Old Jamaica chocolate and a comic. I went to her house often and did weeding and decorating. She lived in Leicester. She went to London only once, in 1927, for her honeymoon. She didn’t like it and never went back. She spent summer holidays on the east coast. 2 weeks a year. She worked in a factory opposite Abbey Park. She used to see Engelbert Humperdink come and pick his girlfriend up from work. She took me to the park often. It was there that we met Walter, the swan that was afraid of water. She knew the park keeper and we chatted with him.
Someone once said she thought the whole world was out to get her. And, I suppose, she had a sort of nervous outlook. We used to watch a bit of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd on the telly. There was a programme that showed clips that she liked. We used to watch it together. “He’s like a fart in a colander,” “You’ll never have any money as long as you’ve got a hole in your arse,” “Flazing dog!” These were the things I remember her saying. She was short, very old. She always seemed old to me. But I always remember her. She was kind, generous and wise.
This isn’t really fiction. Is it memoir? Is it biography? I don’t know, but it is a piece about a person who is important to the author. It has two paragraphs. You could choose to follow this ‘model’ with fairly short sentences on random topics or you could write about a person who is important to you in a different genre. A poem, a story?
Use an image of the person to help you think of what to write. Think about:
- Facts about the person’s life
- Opinions about the person – your own or other people’s
- The work, hobbies, interests the person has or had
- How you are connected to the person
- Things the person says or said
- The person’s habits and personality traits.
Word count and process
- Aim to take around 5 minutes thinking about the person then about 10 minutes writing a first draft. If you’re following the ‘random’ or ‘stream of consciousness’ method, you should just keep writing whatever comes into your head for the full 10 minutes, pausing as little as possible. Don’t worry, you can edit it later.
- When that’s done, you should spend enough time proof-reading for possible spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and maybe a quick edit for meaning so that you are happy for other people to read it.
- If you spend 5 minutes doing that, you should have been creating and writing for about 20 minutes in total.
- Leave it for about half an hour and then come back for another go.
A minimum of 25 words and a maximum of 250 would be fine. Of course, this is a real person you’re writing about so you could probably pretty much go on for ever and ever, but:
“Be careful. Don’t forget to eat!”
If you feel like it, or if you want some ideas about how you can develop what you have written, you could share it by sending it to The Safe House at:
Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!