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Meet the Teaching Artist: Mastering Flash Fiction with Finnian Burnett

by Writing Workshops Staff

A week ago


Meet the Teaching Artist: Mastering Flash Fiction with Finnian Burnett

by Writing Workshops Staff

A week ago


In the world of flash fiction, where every word counts, Finnian Burnett stands out as an expert in crafting short, impactful stories. Their upcoming workshop, Mastering Flash Fiction: 6 Weeks, 6 Stories Zoom Workshop, offers writers the chance to learn the art of creating powerful, concise narratives.

Burnett's work explores themes of the human body, mental health, and gender identity, earning them recognition such as a Canada Council for the Arts grant, a finalist spot in the 2023 CBC nonfiction prize, and a 2024 Pushcart nomination. Their stories have appeared in Blank Spaces Magazine, Reflex Press, The Daily Sci-Fi, Pulp Literature, and CBC Books. Their novellas-in-flash, The Clothes Make the Man and The Price of Cookies, are available through Ad Hoc Fiction and Off Topic Publishing.

This workshop, spanning six weeks, focuses on developing flash fiction skills by creating strong characters, mastering point of view, and experimenting with story forms. Participants will learn to structure flash fiction, build conflict and character, and explore experimental formats. Each week, they will produce a story, gaining tools for idea generation, revision, and subverting traditional points of view.

By the end of the course, participants will have at least six draft stories and one revised piece, along with a deeper understanding of how to write compelling flash fiction.

Join us as we talk with Finnian Burnett about their creative process, the essentials of flash fiction, and what to expect from their upcoming workshop.

Hi, Finnian. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I'm a Canadian writer of contemporary literature, both long form and flash fiction. I love the artistry of flash fiction, the way it gives us entire worlds in so few words. I've written two novellas-in-flash, or interconnected flash fiction collections and I believe flash fiction hones writing skills across all other mediums.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft?

The only way to master a skill is to practice it. I love workshops where people can learn a little, write a little, read a little, share a little.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

We'll be doing story analysis on various aspects of flash fiction and using the information to craft our own stories. I love everything about this class, but my favourite part is the group brainstorming because it's always fun and sometimes wildly hilarious to hear all the weird ideas people come up with.

What was your first literary crush?

Probably Aragon from Lord of the Rings.

What are you currently reading?

I can't be contained to one book at a time. I'm re-reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Glass Half Full of Poetry by Miranda Krogstad, In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, and I just started Cold by Drew Hayden Taylor.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

For long form, I just try to stay with one (or two) novels at a time and just work them to completion. I know almost from the beginning that a book is going to be a book. With shorter pieces, they almost always just come out in a rush all at once. Completion of a first draft is never a problem for me. Revisions, on the other hand, are a different story.

Where do you find inspiration?

Life, things people say, a certain tv show, a what-if question thrown out while having a cocktail with friends, things I want to unpack in my own life.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

To give myself grace when I'm not in a good headspace to write every day, or when I am writing but the words don't feel right, or when I'm had a rejection and I'm in a dark place. That we are supposed to be sensitive. Writers are sensitive - it's part of our job. And to give myself space to feel the deeper emotions but then get back to work because that's my job, too.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

There are so many great ones out there but right now, I'm really into Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash by Michael Loveday because it's such an excellent way to take all these incredible flash fiction stories we're writing and put them into a longer collection.

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

Comforting, encouraging, funny. People usually feel safe in my classes while also unlocking their abilities to explore the boundaries of their comfort zone in writing.

Learn more about working with Finnian:

Avoid the waitlist and sign up for Finnian's class here: Mastering Flash Fiction: 6 Weeks, 6 Stories Zoom Workshop

 

Instructor Finnian Burnett is a writer whose work explores the intersections of the human body, mental health, and gender identity. They are a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts grant, a finalist in the 2023 CBC nonfiction prize, and a 2024 Pushcart nominee. Their work appears in Blank Spaces Magazine, Reflex Press, The Daily Sci-Fi, Pulp Literature, CBC books, more. Their two novellas-in-flash, The Clothes Make the Man and The Price of Cookies, are available through Ad Hoc Fiction and Off Topic Publishing.

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