Review: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck

Rating: Review in Progress

See my final review!

I was browsing Reddit, and came across an Ask Reddit thread about things Redditors will never completely get over. One story, about a writer who stopped writing due to childhood bullying touched me, and I read through all the comments. One of the commentors suggested a 3-week class by a woman I had never heard of: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, and even more importantly, the commentor provided a link to the course.

Week 1 Course Review
The course is designed to be three weeks long, but I completed the first week’s lesson in less than an hour. At first, I thought the exercises seemed exceptionally elementary. Really… even I know what makes a story a story (beginning, middle, end). After the first exercise, I was bored. I’m a college-educated woman, and everyone tells me I should be a writer. I just felt patronized after the first exercise of writing down things that are important to me. I did include the things that are important to me– being debt free, building my dream cabin, and so on. Just for kicks, I also included something that was completely off-the-wall– having a Florida panther as a pet/guardian. I hope that made you LOL because I got a giggle out of it, even as I wrote it.

Despite my arrogance and indignance at being patronized by this free course that touted the success of a woman I’d never heard of, I continued through to the second exercise, and the third. And by the time my hour was up, I had the beginnings of 5 short stories (which are posted below if you want to see them).

So my opinion of Week 1 is this: It’s so very, very basic, but what expert hasn’t been able to find renewed passion and clarity by getting back to the basics? I’m certainly no expert on writing, so I should probably start with the basics, anyway! Just follow through the course, and by the time you’re done, you’ll probably have the beginnings of 5 short stories that you wouldn’t have started otherwise. It’s a great way to get back to writing. In fact, I was so motivated and ready to start the next part of my short stories (using Holly’s methods rather than just charging along blindly), that I purposefully went out and searched for bootleg copies of her materials. My search was unsuccessful, so now I’m thinking about doing lesson 1 every day between now and the day that lesson 2 arrives in my inbox. That would give me the beginnings of 35 short stories.

Here are the beginnings to my short stories. Which story would you be most interested in reading more of?

Story 1:
I dressed the sleeping twins in two layers of warm clothes over their pajamas and then in their snow suits. Thankfully, my children sleep like the dead and nothing wakes them, save the morning sun. They got that from their dad, and I’m twice thankful that he’s passed out on the couch, whiskey glass in hand. I hesitate for a moment over the dog. The Bull Mastiff weighs almost twice as much as I do, and I don’t know how I’m going to feed my children or myself… let alone Moose. Well, I couldn’t leave him, anyway. He doesn’t deserve the wrath of my husband when he finally wakes to discover I’ve gone. Plus, Moose has always been a good alert dog, and he’s big enough to scare off just about anyone.

Story 2:
I’ve had too much drink, but that’s nothing new. The barkeep is fussing about Zaria again, and in my drunkenness, I must defend my companion’s honor.

“I will never understand people who say they aren’t cat people. Look at Zaria. Look at her gleaming black coat. Gaze into her green eyes and tell me you aren’t entranced by her beauty and intelligence. She’s one of the last Florida panthers worth breeding, but I won’t hitch her up to just any old alley cat. No, sir-ee! She’s going to make me a fortune as soon as I get to New Jacksonville.”

My hand burns as I slam my last large bill down on the bar. “Make it a double!”

The large shooter is filled to the brim with clear, intoxicating liquid.

“You know, traveler, it’s a long way to New Jacksonville with naught but a little pussy cat for protection.

Story 3:
“Absolutely not. There’s no fucking way! Josh and I go back to the beginning, when we were just a couple dudes dreaming in my bloody garage, okay? So you take your little reports and your rainbow charts and shove them up your ass! You fuckers are all autistic robots with no clue what it means to be a real friend and business partner.”

True to my insult, the slender blonde in the power suit showed no reaction to my outrage. She calmly handed me her cell phone. “If you will read this headline, sir.”

“CWNN Breaking News: Accommodating AI shares tanked! Stock value drops to $1.22 in less than 60 seconds of trading as CEO Josh Grobt gleams, “Accommodating AI is free to the world… it’s my gift and my legacy!”

“His fucking gift?! It’s my fucking software!”

Story 4:
I shake the man’s hand, slipping a $20 to him. He clasps my arm and slips me a little Foil.

I am a fucking god… or at least I will be in just a few minutes. I sit on the curb and pull out a cigarette. The Foil seems to slip right into the cigarette. I exhale, smile to myself, and light up. This is going to be so good.

As I inhale, I can feel the molten Foil flowing into my lungs and into my blood stream. I feel it in my chest, in my arms, and it explodes in my head.

I know I can do anything. I could get Kara back, and the kids and I could go to Disney World like we always planned. Another hit, and maybe I’ll stop by the office and consider taking my old job back.

Story 5:
“Hi Omar. How are you feeling? Are you sure you’re up for an interview right now?”

“One question at a time, please, miss…”

“Damsen. I’m Anita Damsen. It’s an honor to meet you, Omar.”

“Miss Damsen. Please sit and forget the formalities.”

“Of course. Call me Anita. Before we get into the details of your accident, will you tell what you felt when you found out you qualified for the Olympics?”

“Elated. I worked so hard, and after hearing people call me an underdog and hearing that my chances were too slim to pan out… I pulled through. I lifted every third day, and I ran every single day. I had no cheat days and no excuses. It all paid off. I gave it my all, and it all paid off. But just look at me now. I need a nurse to wipe rear end.”

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