(A Flash Fiction Writing Session from The Safe House)
This session is about routine. It’s about the boring hard work of daily routine, or about the interesting, the amazing, the pleasurable things that you manage to fit into your day. Or both.
Do you have a daily routine? If every day is different for you, you can still try this session. Just average things out or use yesterday as an example or make things up, imagine the daily routine of another person. It doesn’t matter.
Copy the diagram below into your notebook. At The Safe House, we love squared notebooks, it doesn’t really matter the size. You should use any type or size you like. You could use a cereal packet rectangle, as described in other sessions from The Safe House.
Find a comfortable place to sit with a bit of space to spread your kit out. Complete the diagram in any way you choose with regard to your day, or that of your chosen character.
The ‘stimulus’ is the diagram below. You can complete it in any way you choose. Use clouds, arrows, different coloured pens, a ruler! Note significant parts of your day on the diagram – Sleeping, dreaming, eating, travelling, etc.
Obviously, if you have chosen to use another person or character, you should complete the diagram for that person.
The diagram below:
This is an exercise in thinking carefully about when things happen. It is also good practice for note taking and then using notes for creativity.
You can use the information you note on the diagram to construct a piece of narrative writing.
Here are a few things you could do with the diagram, if you complete it with enough detail:
- Write sentences about the day in the third person.
- If you choose to complete the diagram with information about another person’s routine, write sentences about the day in the first person.
- Focus on a particular part of the day, break it down even further and write in more detail about the routine of that part of the day.
- Use past tenses, as if the routine has now changed.
- You could begin to think about describing feelings about the routine as well.
- Describe the day as a one-off day, as if it happened yesterday or as if it happened one day last week.
- Describe the day as a dream for the future.
Word count and process
You could probably fit your day into 250 words, if you really get brutal and edit out a lot of stuff. We would say that between 250 and 500 words is a pretty good target word count for this session.
- Open up a clean page of your notebook, get together a good selection of pens, pencils, felt pens, a ruler and any other kit you would like to use.
- Make a version of the diagram and fill it in. You should think about spending about 15 minutes on this. Of course, it depends on how long it takes you to make the base diagram, and how busy your day is, I suppose. But we think about 15 minutes is good.
- Use the completed diagram to write 250 – 500 words to describe the activities, etc. noted on the diagram. First draft should be pretty much non-stop and take not more than 15 minutes. You’ve got good notes so you don’t have to think too much about what to write. We think it’s a good idea to use your plan when you write like this, but we know not everybody actually does it that way! If you don’t usually use your plan when you write, you could try it for this session. You never know…
- When you have done this, spend time proof-reading for any spelling, punctuation and grammar problems and check it makes sense. Make sure you would be happy for other people to read it. This should probably take about 15 minutes but it really does depend on your accuracy in the first draft and your ability to spot things that need changing.
nb Look for other Safe House Sessions for ways to proof-read and edit your writing.
If you do all of this in one go, you will have been creating and writing for about 45 minutes in total.
This is the same time span as a half in a football match. You will probably be knackered, if you do it non-stop!
Of course, this isn’t football, this is writing. It’s harder. So, we think you should take breaks if you need them. It’s up to you, though.
Anyway, when you’ve done it, leave it for at least half an hour and then come back and edit it one more time.
Here at The Safe House we will give you feedback to support you in what you are creating!
Thanks to Eva for the diagrams.