A Postcard Story is a story or poem that is 100 words maximum. By nature, it is short and sweet—like writing a real postcard—and can be written by adults and children alike. Think small, but fun, and really engaging.
This year’s theme for Culture Days is: Unexpected Intersections. Normally, you might send friends and loved ones a postcard while you’re travelling or when you’re far from home. But now, under these strange new circumstances, why not write a postcard from home?
Do you have memories and moments from a special place, or from previous Culture Days weekends? What are some of the unexpected intersections you have faced, or are currently facing?
Share your postcard here, and remember… keep it to less than 100 words. We may even pick a story or two to be displayed in one of our outdoor poster boxes for the community to see. Deadline to send your story is September 28, 2020 at 11:59pm.
Writing Tips & Resources
Need a hand getting started? We’ve gathered some helpful tips, tricks, and techniques that you and/or your kids may find helpful.
- Think about it like a photograph – try to capture a single moment in time.
- Focus. What’s your story about? Can you sum it up in a sentence?
- Choose your words with care. Use words that have associations and implications (e.g. ‘parquet’ instead of ‘floor’).
- Start in the middle of the action.
- Don’t explain everything. Let readers fill in the gaps with their own ideas.
- Try something unusual. Experiment with different ways of telling your story.
- Edit. Avoid repetition. Remove adjectives, adverbs and any other unnecessary words.
- Read flash fiction. Get inspired by reading some winning postcard stories.
How to write flash fiction
1. Start in the middle.
You don’t have time in this very short form to set scenes and build character.
2. Don’t use too many characters.
You won’t have time to describe your characters when you’re writing ultra-short. Even a name may not be useful in a micro-story unless it conveys a lot of additional story information or saves you words elsewhere.
3. Make sure the ending isn’t at the end.
In micro-fiction there’s a danger that much of the engagement with the story takes place when the reader has stopped reading. To avoid this, place the denouement in the middle of the story, allowing us time, as the rest of the text spins out, to consider the situation along with the narrator, and ruminate on the decisions his characters have taken. If you’re not careful, micro-stories can lean towards punchline-based or “pull back to reveal” endings which have a one-note, gag-a-minute feel – the drum roll and cymbal crash. Avoid this by giving us almost all the information we need in the first few lines, using the next few paragraphs to take us on a journey below the surface.
4. Sweat your title.
Make it work for a living.
5. Make your last line ring like a bell.
The last line is not the ending – we had that in the middle, remember – but it should leave the reader with something which will continue to sound after the story has finished. It should not complete the story but rather take us into a new place; a place where we can continue to think about the ideas in the story and wonder what it all meant. A story that gives itself up in the last line is no story at all, and after reading a piece of good micro-fiction we should be struggling to understand it, and, in this way, will grow to love it as a beautiful enigma. And this is also another of the dangers of micro-fiction; micro-stories can be too rich and offer too much emotion in a powerful one-off injection, overwhelming the reader, flooding the mind. A few micro-shorts now and again will amaze and delight – one after another and you feel like you’ve been run over by a lorry full of fridges.
6. Write long, then go short.
Create a lump of stone from which you chip out your story sculpture. Stories can live much more cheaply than you realize, with little deterioration in lifestyle. But do beware: writing micro-fiction is for some like holidaying in a caravan – the grill may well fold out to become an extra bed, but you wouldn’t sleep in a fold-out grill for the rest of your life.
Off you go!