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*Time period

*Point of conflict/tension

For me, it must do at least one of the above. Two or more, even better!

Now, what do I call ‘surreal openings’? Surreal openings are ones that are not mere statements. Instead they’re enquiring, inquisitive, throw and bounce around possibilities, open up a vast field and range where the writer could ‘theoretically’ take the narrative to.

My Auntie Cheeks moved in with us when I was around the age memories start to stick. She brought with her no belongings and made no requests except one: “Put me there,” she said, pointing the yellow nail of her forefinger to underneath the kitchen sink. *This introduction immediately pulls the reader in. Who is Auntie Cheeks? (note the peculiar name!) and ponder over the strange request. I’m sure you’ll click and read te rest of the piece.
That summer, everything was pregnant.**Intriguing! The question is what is ‘everything’ and why? Field of possiblilities!
“She jumped out of perfectly good planes,” the cutler, Ting, says to me in Mandarin as she wraps freshly sharpened knives inside folds of butcher paper for the customers of her seafood and cutlery shop, Fish Cuts.#Again, myriad ways this narrative can be spun into — sad, funny, fantastical, weird… And , the reader is immediately pulled in to know more.
“So,” the imprisoned alien asked me, flanked by a semi-circle of scented candles, religious ornaments and protection wards, “what did you do to get sent out here?” @So many things are told rightaway, though it doesn’t read like some info dump. Notice the clever use of the question & the word ‘imprisoned’ to qualify the ‘alien’.

Many experts say that even if the launching lines are about a conflict, it is the protagonist’s humane side that must be shown so readers might identify with the character’s goals as the story progresses. I tend to agree with this. Let’s depart from the nuances of flashfiction to usher in this opening from a novel: This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time. (Mitch Albom’s ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’). So, great openings, are meant to be surreal in the broadest sense of the word, and to jolt the reader into attention, and to demand their time.

I hope the next time you read a story and love it, just take a minute to return to its opening and see what exactly pulled you in to invest in the piece.


DIFFICULTY LEVEL 1: A first line that reveals your protagonist’s name, age, location and a hint that helps to establish the time period the story is set in.

DIFFICULTY LVEL 2: i) A first line that opens with a relationship in turmoil (eg. mother-daughter, father-son, sibling rivalry). Use the additional metaphor of the setting of a confined space (room, library, restuarant etc.) to set the piece in.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 3: Start with a simple dialogue where the protagonist is spoken about in a conversation between two other people.




Writers love FREE submission windows, so do I! Places that open for FREE submissions on February 1 are Lost Balloon Magazine, Gordon Square Review, The Citron Review (mini Issue), DASH Literary Journal (open now), Skein Press, Ghost City Press (microchap), Stonecoast (opens Feb 5), Atticus Review (FREE on the 1st), and Shenandoah (opens Feb 6).


Description: Flash Fiction brings to mind something like coffee. Perfectly blended. Strong. Served fast and fresh. As a rapid generative session, sit with a cup of coffee, and before it gets cold, we’ll tap into everyday trifles and memories to quickly write five stories. Expect to experiment and have fun with unusual cultural prompts and published diverse stories to draw inspiration from.


Finally, the pro-tip of the month! A rejected piece is not a bad piece. It means your idea is great but the prose needs work OR Your submission went to the wrong magazine OR Your submission made it through many rounds but they just had too many and couldn’t fit it OR The piece is meant to stay unpublished and later find a place in that collection you’ll write one day!

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