By Writing Excuses | October 12, 2010 - 6:49 am - Posted in Theory and Technique

Hey! It’s a mid-week bonus episode!

Some people complain that we are not thorough enough in our coverage of certain topics. This episode is not for those people.

Writing Prompt: Write a piece of flash fiction that can be printed on a business card. Hat tip to Eric James Stone, whose business cards are awesome.

Note: if you’re looking for something longer-winded, check out Howard on Mur Lafferty’s excellent “I Should Be Writing” podcast. We talk at length about the personae we adopt as authors and artists with an online presence. Or check out the Fantasy Authors panel at NYCC, with Jim Butcher, Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Naomi Novik, Deborah Harkness, and Brandon Sanderson. So long it had to be cut into two parts!


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 at 6:49 am and is filed under Theory and Technique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. October 12, 2010 @ 7:30 am

    “Once upon a time, there was a lovely little sausage
    called `Baldrick’, and it lived happily ever after.”

    I can’t claim credit for this, it came from Blackadder, Ink and Incapability.

    Posted by Ian Barnhart
  2. October 12, 2010 @ 7:40 am

    Awesome. Although now I’m thinking you should have made the episode about epics 15 hours long.

    Posted by Katya
  3. October 12, 2010 @ 9:15 am

    I totally downloaded this like fifteen times before I took the time to actually listen to it. Then I finally realized, “Oh wait. I AM getting the whole file…..”

    Made my day, though.

    Posted by Andrew
  4. October 12, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    I cant believe I paused TWIT to hear what you guys had to say.

    The young girl ran through the pouring rain from the insane killer, who slipped in his haste to catch her. Intent on his quarry he failed to notice the oncoming car.

    Posted by Terry
  5. October 12, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    I already did this is a recent blog when I wanted to demonstrate “late in and early out”


    Elmer screamed, “Oooooohhhhhhhhh!” as he fell off the thousand foot cliff.

    The end.

    Posted by Derby
  6. October 12, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

    Once upon a time there was a little business card that was completely useless.
    The End.

    Posted by Mokona Go
  7. October 13, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    The Transcript…

    Writing Excuses Season Five Episode Six Zero One: Flash Fiction


    Key Point: Faster!

    [Brandon] This is Writing Excuses, Season Five, Flash Fiction.
    [Howard] 15 seconds long because you’re in a hurry.
    [Dan] And we’re not that smart.
    [Brandon] I’m Brandon.
    [Dan] I’m Dan.
    [Howard] I’m Howard.
    [Dan] Be really fast.
    [Brandon] You’re out of excuses, now go write.

    Posted by Mike Barker
  8. October 13, 2010 @ 4:58 am

    Oooh! So, what you’re saying is that the defining feature of flash fiction is speed? And not just any speed, but high speed?

    “Vanessa couldn’t help but stare. She was not a romantic person and ‘love at first sight’ had always struck her as such an absurd notion. But now, all her previous convictions seemed to titter on the edge of the abyss. She put down the obituary, and sighed.”

    Posted by Robin Burgess
  9. October 13, 2010 @ 9:09 am

    Shurely you mean “teeter” 😉

    Posted by Ed
  10. October 13, 2010 @ 9:55 am

    I had a blast listening to the Howard/Mur ISBW episode. It was awesome!

    Everyone has SEEN the hot picture of him with Mur, right?

    Posted by Eliyanna
  11. October 13, 2010 @ 11:50 am

    “Yes, Edgar left me. Terribly sudden,” Victoria told her best friend, Ethel, as they strolled through the garden.

    Luckily for her, it was seventy years later before anyone checked the back shed.

    Posted by Laurie
  12. October 13, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    Ash fell from the sky… And landed on his head.
    The end.

    Posted by CM
  13. October 13, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

    Mur looks hot. I look like a guy who cleans up okay but is puzzled by cameras and women.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  14. October 14, 2010 @ 4:47 am

    “Shurely you mean “teeter” ”

    Not at all! They found the episode hilarious too!

    Hey diddle diddle,
    The cat and the fiddle,
    This rhyme is a riddle,
    So I’ll stop in the middle…

    Posted by Robin Burgess
  15. October 14, 2010 @ 5:32 am

    Howard, I loved the interview with Mur, I’ve been a fan of ISBW for a long time.

    Thanks for the links for the NYCC Panel Videos. It was great seeing Brandon and Jim Butcher on the same panel, you got to get Jim as a guest on Writing Excuses sometime.

    Posted by Oletta
  16. October 14, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after.

    The End

    Posted by Kerstan Szczepanski
  17. October 14, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

    You’re growing sleepy. Sleepy. You want to float, to float away. Your money is so heavy. So heavy. Give me your money, and you will float.
    “He kept telling me my name was wrong, so I told him it was a step sign.”
    “No, this circus doesn’t have a knife thrower.”
    When the blood seeped into the electric motor on my chair, I knew the cats had won.
    American Sign Language Lessons, Apt 12A. Call for appointment.
    Piano for Anyone!, Apt 12B. Stop by anytime!
    I remember when my mother showed me that dead people don’t bleed.

    Posted by Louis
  18. October 15, 2010 @ 4:14 am

    That was the best Writing Excuses ever!

    Oh, I’m just kidding.

    Anyways, I’ve thought of flash fiction as from about 250 to 1000 words. Maybe my attention span is too long. Or my flash fiction. Or both?!? OH NO!


    Posted by David Barron
  19. October 18, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    There is much more to flash fiction (under 1000 words) than to just write really fast, but this was a funny joke nonetheless.

    Posted by Eric J. Krause
  20. November 2, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    […] Seeing that today is November 1st, I figured it would be a great day to start a blog about writing. Why? Because of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo starts November 1st. To learn more about NaNoWriMo check out their site. Though, I’m not going to write a 50k word book this month (which is the goal of NaNoWriMo), far too busy for that this year, but in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to make a write every day this month via this blog. Having said that, today post is going to be a writing prompt from the great writing podcast Writing Excuses. The prompt I’m going to use today is from season 5 episode 6.1 | Flash Fiction. […]

  21. May 26, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

    The assassin found himself pacing up and down the sidewalk. He did not want to be here. By all accounts, he thought, he should not even be here. But here he was.
    Nearly an hour after sunset, he saw her. A woman came out into the night to empty the garbage alone. She had been beautiful once, he could tell, but age and worry had since taken dominance over her other features.
    “Mrs. Sloane?” The man appeared silently from the shadows.
    Mrs. Sloane shrieked in response.
    He reached a hand out to steady her. “I’m sorry. I did not mean to startle you. I should have just knocked on your door. In the daylight. Like a normal person. But…” his voice trailed off. “Old habits, I guess.”
    “Who are you? What do you want?” The woman said, still apprehensive.
    “I need to tell you a story,” he said, “Don’t interrupt. It is brief and will hopefully explain itself.”
    He had been asked to kill a man for an absorbent amount of money, he told her. He had not asked why, it was the reason people hired him. He assumed it was something business related. The execution was simple and painless. A sharp knife had been discretely slotted through her husband’s ribcage as they passed each other on that empty sidewalk. Mr. Sloane had simply slumped to the ground. Before the assassin could walk away however, he heard the man trying to speak. In gasping breaths he had said, “Please… just tell my wife… tell her I loved her.” Sloane tried to laugh and sputtered little flecks of blood, “It is so cliché, I know… but really… I don’t think she knows… not really… I wish I could think of something more clever.” His eyes faded away then into a blank stare.
    The assassin was not sure what the woman would do next. Whatever she decided to do, the assassin had decided, he would not fight or run from it. He would accept any punishment.
    The woman looked suddenly a lot smaller then. Finally, she said, “Thank you.” Then, Mrs. Sloane walked back into the house.
    In his years of work, the assassin had done many things people thought terrible, but for the first time that night he started to cry.

    Posted by Henry Castro
  22. May 29, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Henry, that was really good. I worry that the business card it went on would have to look like this:

    Posted by Ed
  23. June 3, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    Paul travelled the internets to learn the secrets of flash fiction. He did not find it here.

    So in all serious a real ep on this might be quite good?

    Posted by Paul
  24. July 12, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

    You put a smile on my face with your silliness. and seriousness. and everything in between.

    Posted by DeWayne Ruggles