DIY MFA Reading List

I read some of these before I found this list, and I’ve read more because of this list – and can confirm this is a VERY good list of craft books

Al Kratz

I like reading about writing. I like catching up on what I didn’t take in school back when I had the chance. Here are my favorites of my Do It Yourself MFA journey that I started in 2013:

Saunders puts his Russian writers lectures from Syracuse into book form. He says its from his love of the Russian writers, but I also believe there’s some of it being public domain offerings where he could put the full short stories into his book? Either way, I agree and disagree with some of the political criticism this book got, but looking at it purely for the joy of reading and crafting short stories, it is pure gold. 

Grandiose title, but an excellent compressed spin through all the major elements of fiction with good examples and…

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Upfurler by A.E. Weisgerber

I’m in the middle of a break during a ‘Embracing the Strange’ workshop with KM Elkes – and here’s a master flash doing just that

Flash Monsters!!!

Nobody understood this could be a thing, until they saw jumpers at a certain height, five hundred eleven feet, tumble upward. Unlike fallers, upfurlers didn’t make spectators jerk their shoulders in revulsion or crunch up faces to stave off crying.Seeing upfurlers made the emergency responders slack-jawed the way a miracle can. Like if you woke up and had the 20-inch curling fingernails: it made no sense, but you’d seen pictures and here they were. Philippe Petit kind of lay down in the air up there once, but this?There was one woman in a skirt suit, hounds-tooth-checked, who spun like a saucer without rising or falling. Her hair swished behind her, swish, swish, like a sickle. They call her Frisbee now, but her name is Andrea Masterson Giacobazzi, and whatever magic, whatever science, whatever god held her spinning like a barefoot plate, dispersed when the first tower fell, creating voids. Floor…

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Notes from the Slush Pile: Beginnings

Al Kratz

I’d like to share some ideas on beginnings that occurred to me after a recent run through the slush pile.

REM wrote a great song called Begin the Begin on their album, Life’s Rich PageantIt started: Birdie in the hand for life’s rich demand.

A rich, demanding opening is extremely critical to flash fiction. I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of the first few sentences or the opening paragraph. After reading a dozen of these in a row, they can accumulate similar issues. Stories with strong openers rise to the top. It’s a striking difference. Trumpets have been known to sound.

Here are two things that seem to go wrong with many starts:

  • Lack of urgency
  • Lack of clarity

These qualities are often inherent or implied. You can’t always just insert urgency here, but many stories without it act as if you can simply insert reader…

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