"What is Flash!points?"

Flash!, a guide to writing very short stories is full of writing exercises, examples, and prompts to get you writing your own short-short stories. I’ve been asking folks to send us their results. You can contribute as well by sending your stories to me at and maybe you’ll see your story online! You can get your copy of the book here.



Why I’m Afraid of The Desert’s Edge

By Miss Janet L. Hughes


Because our metallic green Ford Galaxy was heavily laden with our most prized possessions. 

Because Mom needed Aunt Wanda’s help with me and Lil’ Sis.

Because Texas was half a continent away.

Because the horde of uniformed attendants rushed to us across the concrete.  

Because the black smoke and flames were engulfing us.  

Because the power-steering line ruptured and spewed fluid all over the hot engine.  

Because my four-year-old self watched sparks spit and hiss as they dropped under the car to the pavement. 

Because Dad couldn’t help even if he wanted to.

Because the men spent all day going all over town to find parts. 

Because Mom cried when she was only charged cost and not a dime of labor. 

Because this was the last California station until the other side of the desert.

Because we needed gas. 

Because the Air Force had taken Dad away by air ambulance for cancer treatment.



* * * 


The writing prompt I used to develop my piece is as follows:

Fill in the Blank: Why I’m Afraid of ________.  Now write twelve or so sentences beginning with Because . . .   


My Because exercise is mostly taken from a real-life experience. An imagination is necessary to write poignant, compelling prose, but I also think using actual experiences from the writer’s life, true stories they hear from others, and even current events, elicits emotion from the reader, which I think should be the writer’s ultimate goal.

Miss Hughes is settled in San Antonio, Texas. She claims Native-Texan status despite being born in England, and wasting the first four years of her life living elsewhere.  She earned a Family Financial Planning degree from Texas Tech University, so naturally she became a career technical writer and event planner. She has traveled to all fifty states and is visiting foreign countries 16-19 by the end of the year.

Here’s one for you to try: THE WORD BECOMES FLASH. Here are some quotes. Choose one or more that sound intriguing and don’t think too much at first. Just start writing. I’m guessing that themes will present themselves to you and that you’ll discover some intriguing characters.

  • “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

  • “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

  • “Sorrow is so easy to express and yet so hard to tell.” Joni Mitchell

  • “Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories - and telling other people a somewhat different version of our stories.” Alice Munro

  • “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.” Philip Larkin