Fiction in a Flash

This resource is great for:
Looking at how stories can be expanded and contracted.

Author Kerry Hudson leads you through a ‘Flash Fiction’ exercise designed to help demonstrate to young people the many ways that stories can be expanded and contracted.


As part of Edinburgh International Book Festival’s LandWords project, award-winning author Kerry Hudson has been working with twelve S3 pupils from Graeme High School to engage with their personal stories.

Use her exercise below to encourage personal storytelling in all forms.

Activity – Fiction in a Flash

This exercise can be done in as little as three 20 minute sections but, like the stories themselves, can be expanded for fuller exploration of the texts.

Begin the exercise by asking your group to talk about the famous Hemingway six word story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

What does the story mean to them? Who do they imagine placing this advertisement? Who do they imagine responding to it? What are the clues?

Discuss how a story can be told in its very purest form and how the imagination will then make a bigger story from it. It’s as if we’re hardwired to make stories; this can be a very useful sentiment to share with nervous pupils, new to writing. It is interesting to explore the differences in what people take from the story, to look at how who we are individually will influence the way we write.


  • Mix, Match & Develop

Divide your group into two teams. On two tables, place several six word stories that have been cut in half and mixed up with the other halves.

There are many websites devoted to flash form online – a good example is:


Task the two teams with matching up the two halves of the stories to complete all the stories before the other team.

Then ask the pupils to select a six word story and expand it to a short story of around three pages. If appropriate, you can use this as an opportunity to talk about tense, perspective, genre and setting.

Get the pupils to read their stories aloud and let the rest of the group guess which six word story inspired it.


  • Postcards Home

Distribute blank postcards and ask the pupils to choose a character from their story and write a postcard to another character from their home town while hinting a little of the story they have already written. This enables discussion about characters, characterisation and how both the characters and your pupils themselves might view their hometown.


  • Wrapping Up

Discuss all the ways the group have been able tell a single story having been given only six words with which to fuel their imagination. Time allowing, you could ask them to go back into teams, select one story and work out as a group how they might further expand the story to make it a novel.

We are all capable of writing fiction: all of us have imagination, ideas and ways of expressing ourselves.


Further information:

Kerry Hudson is an award-winning author from Aberdeen. Along with writing novels, she frequently teaches tailored creative writing workshops to a broad range of ages and abilities. More information on her work can be found on her website: