Tonight I hosted a flash fiction workshop at the Skiff with Ellen de Vries as part of Write Club. The evening was something of an experiment, but it seems to have worked very well.
The night was divided into four rounds. In each round we projected a creative commons photo from flickr on a screen. Everyone in the group then wrote a story inspired by the photo. Afterwards each person took turns to read what they'd written. Apologies were banned – you read what you wrote and let it stand or fall on its merits. In the first round people spent fifteen minutes writing; after that came rounds of ten, five and finally two minutes.
I'd expected the finished work to be scrappy, sometimes left unfinished when the time expired. I also expected a few squibs, where the story hadn't worked and there was no time left to salvage anything. I thought it would be interesting to acknowledge the part played by dissatisfaction and failure in the creative process.
For me, the biggest surprise of the evening was how good the work was. I heard 35 stories (one person arrived after the first round) and each of them was strong and more-or-less complete. Any of them could be developed into a complete piece, given time and polishing. I'd expected the evening to produce some interesting lessons about writing; instead it produced some exciting and entertaining work that I loved listening to.
We're definitely going to do another session soon. Tonight has been the most fun I've had writing in ages. And, to quote Mr. Hume: "first rule of write club was: you don't make any fight club references when talking about write club". Mercifully, I kept to that rule.
The picture below is from exmosis, and was the image used in the 10-minute round:my mailing list