Every June, Girls Write Now, where I volunteer as a writing mentor for a teenager, publishes an anthology of specially polished pieces by that year’s group of girls. This year Newsweek ran a big story on the GWN program, featuring six selections from the anthology. And one was by my own mentee, Winkie Ma! I am beyond thrilled.
Her piece came out of one of GWN’s monthly genre workshops: Dystopian Flash Fiction. I had vaguely heard of flash fiction but had never met it, so to speak. I haven’t written fiction since my 20s, so a fiction workshop is a challenge for me. Adding a 500-word limit and making the piece dystopian didn’t make it easier. I was happy to find myself producing a bare-bones concept of a piece with a strong theme and a twist at the end that could actually be done in 500 words (currently on my list of things-to-work-on).
But Winkie, an aficionado of movies like Divergent, who like many teenage girls has a taste for fantasy fiction, wasn’t fazed. She produced a draft of a“dark” tale easily. Then, sitting in our customary writing haunt—the café in a Brooklyn Target—we edited out every extraneous word. Scroll down in the Newsweek article to read her piece, “Three Reflections.” It’s a good demonstration that tight word limits are excellent for focusing the mind.