5 Minute Fiction: Have You Got a Minute?

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Españo...

English: : A mirror, reflecting a vase. Español: : Un espejo, reflejando un vasija. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I talked about how some writers struggle with the blank page that stares back at them every time they settle down to write. How the cursor sits there blinking merrily away while your mind wanders about down a pebble-lined path jauntily daydreaming about nothing in particular.

Today, I have a few more exercise to share and for your reading enjoyment a sample of a piece of “fast fiction” I wrote using the exercises and techniques I described yesterday in my article, Don’t Get Any Ideas. So without further ado, here’s another exercise for you to test out that may spark new ideas and avenues of thought never before contemplated.

Once you’ve had some practice using the 5-minute method I described yesterday, you can try your hand at the following exercise. Again, you will need an egg timer or something else to count down 5 minutes. These may be a little bit harder than what I mentioned yesterday, but could also be easier for you depending on your particular writing practice or style.

Each of the following sentences are to be used at the beginning, end or anywhere in between of whatever story comes to mind. Choose a sentence, set the timer and begin: It was a big house with two rooms. They walked away without saying a word. I laughed silently. After dinner, they went into the garden. She recognized him at once. I glanced at my watch. He put down his glass. She turned white – dead white. The little dog started barking. When he looked, it was gone.

The following short was one I wrote using the technique described above; it is only an excerpt from a longer piece. This exercise was “Write a story about the dark.”

Darkness was everywhere, so thick it was almost suffocating. He couldn’t remember when the darkness had started or why. He couldn’t remember much of anything now other than the dark. As long as he could remember, there had always been darkness. No light, no break anywhere in the unending repetition of darkness. Once in a while he would think he saw a glimpse of light far off in the distance. A mere twinkling of light, like that of a star in a darkened sky. But when he blinked the light would be gone and if he looked harder for it, he’d begin to wonder if he’d seen anything at all. Maybe the light was somewhere behind his eyes and when he blinked it was just a memory of light. Yet he could remember the sun and how bright it had been. So wonderfully warm and intense, yet it had been so long since he’d seen it that he thought maybe he’d only ever imagined it or dreamed it. He had also noticed that the dark seemed cold but he didn’t really understand cold since he didn’t actually feel cold. He couldn’t explain the dark or the feeling of being cold when he couldn’t feel it. It was quite possible, he thought, that he was just going mad.

This next sample was based on the exercise: “Write a story about a noise.” It’s also only an excerpt of a much longer piece that I was inspired to expand on at a later date.

She was afraid to go in he bathroom. Something was in there. She could see them from the corner of her eye whenever she looked in the mirror. It was crazy. She knew this. No one could be in the bathroom without her having seen them go in there. People didn’t live in mirrors and you couldn’t see reflections of things that didn’t exist.

All this ran through her mind even as she clutched a towel to her chest while cautiously approaching the open bathroom door. Never should have taken this unit without a window in the bathroom, she chided herself, taking a step closer to the door. She intended to cover the mirror. Reflections or not, she thought, if I cover the mirror whatever I saw won’t be there anymore. She knew there was a rather large flaw in this line of thinking, but she shoved it aside. Treading carefully and breathing shallowly so as not to make a noise, she quietly stepped to the bathroom threshold. She could see the mirror, but it was so dark in the room that she couldn’t make out any reflections, which as far as she was concerned was just fine by her. All she had to do now was step inside and cover the mirror with the towel she still clutched in her hands. She could hear and see nothing in the dark interior of the room, but didn’t dare turn on the light. Her eyes would immediately be drawn to the mirror and her mind shied away from even the possibility of catching a glimpse of what might be reflected there.

And that dear readers is a small example of how using 5-minute exercises can help jump-start your writing or even point you in a new direction. Hope you are able to make use of these in your own writing work.

Have you got 5 minutes to spare?

Exercises taken from the book Fast Fiction by Roberta Allen


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