Lesson 3

Lesson 3

A Lesson by Tantra Bensko

Create a story by making a numbered list. See if you can keep it to under 1000 words, which qualifies it as Flash Fiction.


Think of all the kinds of lists you engage with -- laundry lists, grocery, list of lovers, guests to a party, things you want to do before you die, traits you want to improve, etc. And see if there is some way you can make that list creative. Like, imaginative clothes or ridiculous guests, or tragic traits. Then, who can you make a creative list into some kind of narrative?

The narrative action could be about the person making the list, the narrator. Does she change over the course of making the list in some way, transform? That change is the plot.

The narrative action could come from the subject of the story taking place over a certain time period in which something changes and comes to some conclusion.

It could come from the transformation of the reader. There could be a lot of mystery she's trying to solve, and then she starts catching on, and at the end, experiences some kind of strong emotion, or new insight.

What other ways could make it into a narrative? It doesn't need to be an obvious, simple narrative plot. Just a pleasing list that leads the reader through an experience in a masterful way, and the reader feels the impact of the ending as being satisfying.

You are welcome to contact me for possible feedback on one and only one story in the class. Assuming I'm available at the time, I will give you my response, though not necessarily as detailed and time-consuming as it would be if you were a client, for fairness sake. But this is a gift I'd be glad to give.

My email is flameflower at runbox dot com. Make your subject line: Writers Cafe Experimental Course.

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Posted 8 Months Ago

4:54 PM U.S. CST
"My Information Blotter Idea"
by PB Jacobs (www.writerscafe.org)

Hey, Tantra

I tend to do an Information Blotter, as in write the thoughts that pertain to the piece I'm working on from the top of my head. It takes the top layer of what's on my mind pertaining to my piece and it put's it in one place, as in on a single piece of paper.

A quiet mind ritual such as this, really helps me get into the swing of my writing, and it's all pick and choose, once I get my Information Blotter done. In the end, I have a quieter mind, and I am more able to put my mind clog's behind me.

It also help's to eliminate Astral rodent activity!

PB Jacobs

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Posted 5 Years Ago

I'm not sure how this is a list, but I like it.

[send message]

Posted 5 Years Ago

Dougie was a farm boy, trumpet got him out of the weeds and into urban drought quick enough.

Steve, ah Steve, a sax player’s, sax player: he could blow changes cool as blowing out a match.

This girl, Ms. Eldridge, was strong willed of religious spirit, family values and even briefly considered a second date after going parking in the forest preserve.

The one that gets away, too soon, too little, too loving too, too Janet.

Fritz was a self-made multi-talented man, that after breaking his own leg would help you out by giving you the shirt off his back.

Ah, hahahaha, Marvin, marvelous Marvin, the coolest cat in town, his smile wide, his eyes warm, his ears heard more than a black and tan hound.

Cameron, better writer than a talker, but the phone conversations, priceless examples of twenty something twaddle, but he was heavy like a brother.

Small and sensual like the heart red furnace of Venus, a sexual addiction. Rhonda I wouldn’t survive.

Ken, he’s pretty much done everything all his life, he was thinking about doing more, but didn’t quite get around to it, his Kirillian pup just wouldn’t wait for her walk.

I noticed Douglas standing with a group of teachers. Dougie was a farm buoy, his trumpet got him out of the weeds and into some urban drought quick enough. I knew him for over twenty years and now we don't talk much.
Laughing at the bar was Steve, pouring himself some tequila and patting his jacket pocket to see if he remembered to bring some joints for later on in the evening. Steve, a sax player's sax player, he could blow changes as cool and effortlessly as blowing out a match.

I swished the wine in the glass, studying it's color in the lamp light. the memories were still there, I just had to rearrange blocks in my mind. At the door, just coming in was an old old high school girlfriend. Ms. Eldridge. She had a strong willed religious spirit, Baptist, and strict family values although she briefly considered another date after going parking in the forest preserve. Such is youth. The wine's bouquet invaded my nose as I drank with a large gulp. The party music switched from pop to disco.

I almost bit my lip, out on the veranda under the light of a Japanese lantern was the one that got away, too soon, tool little, too loving, too, too Janet. The love at first sight first love. I moved to a crowed corner filled with loud talking people I didn't know. I set my empty wine glass down and looked for something stronger. Someone came around holding highball glasses and a bottle of vodka. Just in time.

I noticed a tall head above the crowd, Fritz. He looked a little grayer, marrying a girl twenty years younger and having a child will do that. Fritz was a self-made, multi-talented man that after breaking his own leg would help you out by giving you the shirt off his back. I had liked Fritz, we had done lots of different gigs together, but he moved in different circles. I held the burning vodka in my mouth until it didn't burn anymore and swallowed. The room was melting to the guests.

I was pulled out of thought by a large, warm laugh. Ah hahahahaaha. Marvin, marvelous Marvin. The coolest cat in town, his wide smile and smoldering brown eyes could capture the coldest of hearts. His ears heard more than a black and tan hound. He had given me a second start in this town, opened a door or two. I clinked the ice in my glass and wondered how best friends could loosely fall apart. I moved out of the glare of a art deco floor lamp and slunk back into the cover of cigarette smoke haze.

In the yellow glow of the tiny kitchen I could just make out another old old friend. Cameron, a better writer than a talker but the phone conversations we used to have were priceless examples of twenty twaddle. But, he was heavy like a brother. I wondered what he was back in town from sunny California for. A fresh bottle of vodka passed my way and I poured myself more than two fingers.

My eyes began to sting from the smoke and I moved toward the stereo system set into a bookshelf. From there I panned the room, trying to see who else had made it. that's when I felt her presence. A small and sensual heart red furnace of Venus. She was a sexual addiction. I turned and saw Rhonda holding the arm of an academic type. I broke off with her because I knew I couldn't survive our physical relationship. She was a one of a kind addiction.

The night wore on, the pop and disco wound down to some cool bebop jazz. I was on my fourth vodka rocks and had managed to circulate unnoticed by all the guests. I found a large leather chair behind a sliding door in the den and sat down to have one more for the road. Many of the guests and long ago friends had left, lots of strangers lingered about, feigning attention to garbled monologues. At about two a.m. the door burst open and Rachel and her date crashed in. Rachel was the definition of the phrase, a fast car will get you a fast woman, and Rachel hit the straight-a-ways hard and burnin' and didn't let up in the curves. It was her full body kiss at three a.m. in an after hours bar that melted this dragster's lips.

I slid deeper in to the leather skinned cushions and sipped my vodka. I looked out the condo's high-rise windows and stared in silent reverie at the skyline of the city. This night the city seemed even larger than when I had arrived. I casually made my way out of the den and across the foyer as the CD player started playing Nancy Wilson singing "These Foolish Things Remind Me of You". I walked down the hallway and pressed the elevator down button. The elevator defended, like time passing and even though I had done parties like this before, I didn't get any feelings of deja vu. I just felt tired. When the elevator came to rest on the first floor and it's doors opened, I felt glad to be back in the present again.

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Added on March 19, 2013
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Tantra Bensko
Tantra Bensko

Berkeley, CA

I teach fiction writing through UCLA Ex. Writing Program, and my own academy online where I focus on Experimental Writing, which I also teach through Writers College when I have time. I have nearly 20..