Write Free or Die

“Do not put statements in the negative form. And don't start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.” ― William Safire

Flash Fiction (The Form)

The Write Free or Die Flash Workshop

The WFoD Flash Workshop exists as an adjunct to the Write Free or Die writers’ group on Meetup.com. Membership is open to anyone. It isn’t necessary to attend the WFoD “Critique” meetings to participate in the Flash Workshop, but membership in WFoD is required.

What’s Flash Fiction?
There’s no strict, formal definition of “Flash” as a genre; it’s just really short fiction (sometimes called “short-short” or “micro” fiction). The abundant flash outlets on the internet offer a plethora of definitions that end up being more a matter of pet descriptions than definitive requirements. Word counts are the most frequent delimiter, with “under a thousand words” being the most frequently encountered criterion. Many online publishers add their own descriptors that aren’t specific to flash but to their perceived line of trade (“gutsy” or “pertinent to the times we live in” or “appeals to cockatoo fanciers”). We don’t.

Why this workshop?
The WFoD Flash Workshop was born as a training effort for a specific competition – the New Hampshire Writers Project annual Three Minute Fiction Slam. This event has more layers than mentioned above, and more definitive, arbitrary requirements. To wit: there’s no word count limit, but contestants read their work aloud before an audience including a panel of judges, and readings that exceed three minutes are penalized. See the NHWP website for more details about this event.

What do we do?
The WFoD Flash Workshop follows the Slam format: participants bring their work to the meetings, we read aloud to each other, time the readings, and offer each other gut response feedback. That’s it. Writers helping writers: no experts, no instructors, no guarantees. The leader of the workshop records authors, titles, and timing per session and maintains an ongoing log for reference by writers.

What if I don’t plan to compete (or don’t like to read aloud in public)?
The format described above is not a requirement for participation. If a writer is not interested in the competitive aspect, simply submitting one’s work for response of the group is perfectly acceptable. If this route is chosen, the text formatting expectations of the main WFoD Critique group apply – use a 10 or 12 point standard font (TNR, Arial, e.g. – no Comic Sans PLEASE?), double-spaced, with author name, title, and page number in header or footer, PDF file format.

Where & when?
The Flash Workshop meets at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway, Rt. 102 · Derry, NH. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 PM – check the board in the front vestibule for room assignment (most often room 2).

Competitive Events

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project (NHWP) runs an annual competitive event known as the Three-Minute Fiction Slam.  Community-based groups around the state hold local  competitions and the winner of each local competition gets to compete in the State Finals in Manchester.

Write Free Or Die members have won the Derry and other local competitions. Cathy McDonald (a founding member of WFoD) won the state championship in 2017 and Alex McGrath took second in the state finals in 2019.

What if I have more questions?
Email Dean Quarrell or buttonhole me before or after a regular WFoD Critique session. Or just show up and ask.

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