6 Minute Story: crowd-driven, flash-fiction experiment


Six Minute Story was founded to help people think eloquently on their feet. We realized if you want to be heard in this A.D.D. world, your point must be brief. If you want to be listened to, your point must be eloquent—you must tell your story remarkably or the audience will interrupt. And then you’re finished.

To that end, Six Minute Story insists on a tight constraint: writers have six minutes flat to conjure a story ex nihilo. We surprise them with a prompt, so they must improvise without rumination. It’s tough at first. But as they practice, their writing becomes concise, focused and riveting—witty, as Polonius put it, without tedious flourishes.

Away from the keyboard, writers communicate efficiently, think rapidly and tell engaging stories. Not only are those skills marketable, but people enjoy listening to them. It’s worth the six minutes.

Here are two sample stories:

Bury My Heart at Wounded Thigh
by Tony Noland

Find within yourself the path to truth, and you will never steer yourself wrong.

Good Lord, what a load of crap, he thought, sharpening the shovel again.

Rely on my own internal frame of reference to tell me what is the true path? Hell, if I thought my internal compass was true, I’d be in a better place now. Isn’t that right, Jenny?

No, I guess you wouldn’t have much to say about it, would you?

I never thought we’d be in this position, Jen. I honestly thought we’d make it. But I followed my heart, and that led me to you.

You, and Tommy.

Well, I took care of him, didn’t I, Jen? That’s something my heart led me to.

Y’know, Jen, I’m kind of glad I used the shovel end and not the handle end. He was a handsome guy, even I have to admit that. Just the kind of fella you’d like, especially after rebounding off of me.

Right, Jen?

Well, I guess it’s time. I’m not gonna be able to get it much sharper than this. Bend down, Jen. It’ll be quicker.

I said, bend down.

NOW!

**********

The Hailstorm
by David J. McGee

Chaz and Elinor tear-ass through the forest, hands raised ineffectually above heads, sodden shoes slapping on undergrowth, alternately laughing and yelling “Ow. Ow. Ow!”

The hailstorm pelts them from above, chunks of ice the size of large coins, not nickle-and-dimeing today but quartering and Susan B. Anthonying. Chaz gets a Kennedy fiftycent piece to the top of the skull and takes a header, facefirst into the soggy pine needles below.

“I think that one actually trepanned me,” he shouts.

“What? Get up!” Elinor hauls him to his feet and they keep running.

The tent, they’re sure, is just over this hill. Just over this hill and right across the babbling brook, they’re sure of it. Although although although.

“That tent cost like twelve bucks on Craigslist.”

“If that tent’s not still standing, I’m going to kill you.”

There is no menace in their voices. This is the most fun they’ve had in, what? Months? Years?

“The storm took me down, Elinor. Ow. What do you think it’s—CHRIST—going to do to the little pup?”

“This was your idea. Just remember that. OW SHIT.”

Laughing and laughing. Up that hill and down. Over the river. Through the woods. The tent is utterly demolished. They raise their fists, laughing at the sky.

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  • It was fun to write that piece for 6 Minute Story – a fast, creative sprint. I'd encourage others to give it a shot.

    You can read more of my fiction at my blog, http://www.TonyNoland.com

    Tony Noland