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Monday, January 5, 2015

Writing Flash Fiction

I enjoy writing flash fiction. What is flash fiction, I hear you ask? It's a piece of writing that tells a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end using only 300 to 500 words. Today I'm sharing a writing exercise using the following words to write a flash fiction story: Linseed oil – turpentine – palette cups. You get to tell me if I succeeded or not.

The apprentice gathered a handful of paint-filled brushes and dropped them into the turpentine-filled jar.
He brushed aside straw-colored hair leaving a steak of ocher on his forehead. Once more his gaze returned to the wet painting on the easel. Could add just a stroke or two to the mouth. Make the smile a little fuller. Feeling guilty, he shot a look across the room to the two men deep in argument.
“Ten lira. That’s all that painting is worth to me. Take it or leave it.”
“But Patrone, just the special colors you demanded cost me more than that.”
The visitor shrugged his shoulders and turned away, shaking his head. 
Maestro grabbed at his cloak, forcing the man to halt in his steps. “I’m pleading, Patrone. What will I have left to live on once I pay my model and the apprentice?”
The man yanked his cloak out of the artist’s clutches, dug beneath its surface and pulled out a leather bag. He loosened the drawstring and shook out several coins. Holding them out in his hand, he said, “Here, this is all I can spare.”
The artist snatched the coins from his open palm and bowed deeply. He followed his visitor out the door and down the steps to the entrance.
Left alone, the apprentice returned to his work. The model, Lisa, had already left but not without some curt comments about her meager pay for the long hours Maestro required for this painting. He swiped at the palette cups, regretting the waste of paint. Tomorrow, the same costly colors would again be squeezed from their tubes. There was always another painting that needed to be done if they were to eat.
The sound of a more amiable conversation drifted from below. What a way to live. Much as the need to create beautiful pictures drew him, he realized this was not the way he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
He stared again at the wet painting. Lisa was a charming subject, no doubt about that. But there was something about… He snatched up a brush lying nearby and with just the suggestion of hesitation dipped it first into the linseed oil and then in the Crimson Red. He leaned close to the canvas, wanting to be exact in the placement of the paint. There! Just one or two dabs.

He stepped back and surveyed what he had done. Now! That will make everyone wonder what the lovely Mona Lisa was smiling about.

Did you enjoy it? Will you help me give it a name?


  1. Interesting to learn about “writing flash fiction” using Mona Lisa was clever.

  2. Writing flash fiction is a good exercise in writing tight and concise.