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In a supportive atmosphere we will address various topics focused on drafting compelling flash fiction. Participants will peer review in small groups and receive feedback on two drafts per module from the SmokeLong workshop leader. In the final week of the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to receive feedback from all three workshop leaders on one final draft. The SmokeLong workshops are generative, but you are also welcome to polish works in progress drafted before the workshop. This workshop is asynchronous (all writing, no live sessions), so you can join from anywhere in the world.
Module One (September 7-20) — Workshop leader: Christopher Allen
We’ll look at what sets flash fiction apart from other longer narrative forms but also from vignette, scene, and profound statements. We’ll analyze great flash fiction at the sentence level, discuss rhythm, pace, syntax and compression, and of course draft several stories. During the second week, participants will submit two drafts to the workshop leader for feedback.
Module Two (September 21-October 4) — Workshop Leader: Venita Blackburn
Like all storytelling, flash fiction centralizes characters in extraordinary moments. This workshop will emphasize voice, time, and experimental structure in order to wring out extraordinary narratives within the tiniest of spaces.
Module Three (October 5-18) — Workshop leader: Elisabeth Ingram Wallace
Writing Black Comedy – Humour is what happens when we tell the truth more quickly and more directly than people are used to. We are going to write flash fiction that is jangly with honesty, by playing with tightly observed fragments, and taking risks with juxtaposition. We won’t worry about the ‘why’, we’ll write towards energy, and figure everything else out later.
Last Week (Oct 19-25): Editing Focus. Participants may send one last draft to all three Workshop Leaders.
You’ll receive an invitation to join the site on September 5 so that you’ll have a couple of days to become acclimated before the workshop begins on September 7.
The workshop is divided into three 2-week modules (see above). The 3 writing tasks/assignments and 2 prompts come in the first week. The second week of each module serves as a time to think, research, WRITE, breathe, and prepare for the next module. You will submit two drafts to the workshop leader of each module on Tuesday and Friday of the second week (this is all on the workshop schedule, which will be on the workshop site).
Seven weeks is a long time for such an intense workshop, but remember that the second week of each module is there for you to review and write without the pressure of new assignments. We hope that breaking the workshop up into 3 distinct modules with 3 very different workshop leaders–myself, Venita Blackburn, and Elisabeth Ingram Wallace–will keep motivation high. You can reach out to the workshop leaders anytime you’re needing a pep talk.
One vital part of the SmokeLong Flash Fiction Workshop is small group peer review. Please be prepared to give feedback on your groupmates’ work, and please try to get this feedback done within 2 days so that everyone can stay on schedule. Giving feedback is an indispensable learning experience. We ask that you give honest and respectful feedback. Please try to refrain from saying you love something if you really don’t. Everyone is here to improve and draft great stories not to get their backs rubbed. You will receive an invitation to join your first small group on September 6.
Submitting Workshop Stories to SmokeLong
Yes, this is possible under the following conditions: workshop leaders who have read and commented on the story in the workshop are not allowed to vote or comment on the story in the SmokeLong Submittable queue. The story must enter the SmokeLong queue anonymously as all submissions must, and it must go through the same process as all submissions. For example, if I (Christopher) have read and commented on your story and you submit the story to SmokeLong, I–even if I loved your work–will have no influence on whether the story is accepted or rejected. We follow this policy with all stories we recognize in the queue. Submissions must always be read blind.
If Venita Blackburn, our quarterly guest editor, has read and commented on your story in the workshop, we ask that you wait until the following quarter to submit the story to SmokeLong. All accepted submissions must be read and approved by the quarterly guest editor while still anonymous, so of course this would not be possible if the guest editor knows the writer’s identity.
This seems difficult and restrictive, but we accepted two stories from the last workshop. It can happen, but it must happen with integrity.
Cost: $295 (Please request the payment method by sending an email to email@example.com.)
Participant Limit: 16
More about the Workshop Leaders:
Christopher Allen is the author of the flash fiction collection Other Household Toxins (Matter Press, 2018). His work has most recently appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2019, Booth, and Gone Lawn. He has a BA in music business from Belmont University and an MA in English from Middle Tennessee State University. Allen has been a teacher for over 30 years. In normal times, he is a nomad, but in these unusual times he makes do at his home in Munich, Germany.
Works by Venita Blackburn have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Apogee, Iowa Review, Foglifter, Electric Literature, the Paris Review and others. She received the Prairie Schooner book prize for fiction, which resulted in the publication of her collected stories, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, in 2017. In 2018 she earned a place as a finalist for the PEN/Bingham award for debut fiction, finalist for the NYPL Young Lions award and recipient of the PEN America Los Angeles literary prize in fiction. She is founder of the literary nonprofit Live, Write (livewriteworkshop.com), which provides free creative writing workshops for communities of color. Blackburn’s second collection of stories, How to Wrestle a Girl, will be published fall of 2021 by MCD of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her home town is Compton, California, and she is an Assistant Professor of creative writing at California State University, Fresno.
Elisabeth Ingram Wallace is the winner of the Mogford Short Story Prize, Writing the Future, and a Scottish Book Trust ‘New Writers Award.’ Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Flash Frontier and other journals and anthologies including Best Microfiction 2019. A founding editor of ‘BIFFY’, the Best British and Irish Flash Fiction series, she is currently the Senior Editor for Flash Fiction at TSS Publishing. She has a Creative Writing M.Litt. with Distinction from the University of Glasgow, and was awarded a Dewar Arts Award for Fiction as one of ‘Scotland’s Brightest and Best’.