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Flash Fiction: Reading, Writing, and Preparing for the AP Lit Exam

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Presentation on theme: "Flash Fiction: Reading, Writing, and Preparing for the AP Lit Exam"— Presentation transcript:

1 Flash Fiction: Reading, Writing, and Preparing for the AP Lit Exam
NMSI (20-21 October 2014 Renee H. Shea Maybe a visual – pics of Flash Fiction book covers?

2 What Is It? Flash Fiction Sudden Fiction Nano-Fiction Micro-Fiction
Very very short story … “Fiction is the art form of human yearning, no matter how long or short that work of fiction is.” (Robert Olen Butler)

3 The Shortest Short Story?
Pic of Papa Hemingway?? “For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn” (Ernest Hemingway)

4 Why Do It? Some full stories have been on the exam (Q2).
Many of the stories are really good. They’re self-contained pieces (not excerpts) It’s an exciting and evolving form, perhaps more popular because of social media. Even in short short form, these stories isolate elements important to Q2 (e.g., symbol, point-of-view) Flash fiction easily encourages student writing. The stories are often playful … fun … even edgy.

5 “a long and respectable tradition” AP Exam Examples
“Father and I” by Par Lagerkvist (1970s?) “Eveline” by James Joyce (1972) “Reunion” by John Cheever (1988) “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros (1995) “The Birthday Party” by Katharine Brush (2005)

6 Characteristics Length (1000 words, 750, less??)
“depend for their success not on length but on their depth, clarity of vision, and human significance” (James Thomas and Robert Shapard) “sleek and efficient” (Charles Baxter) “What the detail is to the world of facts, the moment is to the flow of time.” (Baxter)

7 Grace Paley “A short story is closer to the poem than to the novel (I’ve said that a million times) and when it’s very very short – 1, 2, 2 ½ pages – should be read like a poem. That is, slowly. People who like to skip can’t skip in a 3-page story.” Grace’s photo?

8 Luisa Valenzuela “I usually compare the novel to a mammal, be it wild as a tiger or tame as a cow; the short story to a bird or a fish; the micro story to an insect (iridescent in the best cases).” Another photo?

9 Joyce Carol Oates “The rhythmic form of the short-short story is often more temperamentally akin to poetry than to conventional prose, which generally opens out to dramatize experience and evoke emotion; in the smallest, tightest spaces, experience can only be suggested.”” Pic?

10 Novel vs. Short Fiction “But what if length, great length, is a convention not always necessary to the materials but dictated by an author’s taste or will, a convention that runs parallel to a, empire-building, and the contemplation of the heroic individual? What if length is a feature of writing that is as artificial as an individual prose style? Perhaps length has something to do with the relation between author and reader, then; length might be a kind of pact, an agreement between reader and writer, to do something for a long time, like living within marriage. Or it may simply be evidence of the writer’s interest in domination.” (Charles Baxter)

11 Does The Goldfinch Come to Mind???
Add a pic of Goldfinch cover …

12 Yes, But … “Quite a few critics have been worried about attention spans lately and see very short stories are signs of cultural decadence, bonbons for lazy readers, chocolates stuffed with snow.” (Charles Baxter)

13 Let’s Try It “The Birthday Party”: Write an essay discussing how the author uses literary devices to achieve her purpose. (2005)

14 “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver
Try A New One “Popular Mechanics” by Raymond Carver Some kind of visual … Carver’s pic? Renee: thought I would find a pic similair to the beginning of the short story: “Early that day the weather turned and the snow was melting into dirty water. Streaks of it ran down from the little shoulder-high window that faced the backyard. Cars slushed by on the street outside, where it was getting dark. But it was getting dark on the inside too.”

15 Opening paragraph of "Mine” [92 Furious Seasons
Opening paragraph of "Mine” [92 Furious Seasons. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1977.] During the day the sun had come out and the snow melted into dirty water. Streaks of water ran down from the little, shoulder-high window that faced the back yard. Cars slushed by on the street outside. It was getting dark, outside and inside.

16 The final paragraphs of "Mine" [93 Furious Seasons
The final paragraphs of "Mine" [93 Furious Seasons. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1977.] She felt her fingers being forced open and the baby going from her. No, she said, just as her hands came loose. She would have it, this baby whose chubby face gazed up at them from the picture on the table. She grabbed for the baby's other arm. She caught the baby around the wrist and leaned back.     He would not give. He felt the baby going out of his hands and he pulled back hard. He pulled back very hard.     In this manner they decided the issue.

17 Isolating Literary Elements
Analyze how the author reveals the character of Moses. You may wish to consider such literary elements as point of view, selection of detail, and imagery. (2014) Analyze how Lawrence uses literary devices to characterize the woman and capture her situation. (2013) Analyze how Eliot portrays these two characters and their complex relationship as husband and wife…such literary devices as narrative perspective and selection of detail. (2011) Analyze how Petry establishes [the character’s]relationship to the urban setting through the use of such literary devices as imagery, personification, selection of detail, and figurative language. (2009) Analyze how the author uses such literary devices as speech and point of view to characterize [the character’s] experience. (2008)

18 Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from The Guardian
Start in the middle Don’t use too many characters Make sure the ending isn’t at the end Sweat your title Make your last line ring like a bell Write long, then go short From article by David Gaffney

19 Resources Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories (edited by James Thomas, et al.) Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories (edited by James Thomas and Robert Shapard) Sudden Fiction International: 60 Short Short Stories (Robert Shapard and James Thomas) Audio Resources National Public Radio: Three Minute Fiction Selected Shorts (NYC) "The Remarkable Reinvention of Very Short Fiction" by Robert Shapard (World Literature Today. September/October 2012) "Flashed on the Meridian:  Dazzled by Flash Fiction" by Pamelyn Casto Anshea, pls check links are working


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