Documenting Life, Briefly: Writing Flash Nonfiction


Flash nonfiction, also called the micro-essay, is an increasingly popular genre for nonfiction writers. It allows for experimentation with form, language, style, and voice in ways that are difficult to sustain in longer essays and memoirs. As well, it allows the writer to home in on a particular memory, experience, or feeling. This workshop will explore what it means to be brief in literature, and how flash nonfiction can, within a narrow word count, capture a time, a feeling, or a place in vivid, resonant language. Participants will read and discuss brief nonfiction to explore the authors’ experiences and emotional responses, focusing on form and craft. With prompts provided by the instructor, students will draft several micro-essays (less than 750 words apiece) based on their own experiences, and their emotional responses to those experiences. We will workshop several of the pieces. (12 hours)

Leslie Maxwell is a writer and teacher living in Durham. Her flash nonfiction has appeared in Juked, Blunderbuss Magazine, The Fourth River, Lockjaw, Cheat River Review, and decomP magazinE. Her other writing has appeared in Rappahannock Review, the News & Observer, Walter, and other publications, and is forthcoming in Fourth Genre. Maxwell holds an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University, where she served as the founding nonfiction co-editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art. Find her online at


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