As close to an honest story as I'm capable of. #flashfiction #shortstory https://t.co/wlp2YyEJw3 https://t.co/blT4yyxljz (1 day ago)

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Jun
20

masks

I’m not going to be around forever so I need to show you how to do this without me. It’s really very simple; you just have to work at it a bit. I’d hate to think if for some reason I wasn’t around anymore that you would stop having pointless thoughts.

Let me start by walking you through the process. First you have to start with a premise. Don’t put much energy into this it really doesn’t matter. In fact, the more random and irrelevant the idea the better. Let’s say for instance you think that clowns should start a union.

Now start writing.

It’s just that easy.

Once you start writing, whatever you do, don’t stop. As this is your first time I guess some hand-holding is in order. The first step would be to examine why clowns would need unions. Remember that no reason is too stupid and it doesn’t even have to make sense. It could be cruel treatment at a circus that you completely make up or it could be concern for old clowns who can no longer put in enough hours to make a decent living. It doesn’t matter. And remember, just because you are writing in defense of clowns is no reason you can’t make fun of them. Pointing out the dilemma of a group of picketing clowns as to whether or not to wear their whiteface provides you the opportunity to explore both how silly they would look holding angry signs while wearing bright painted-on smiles and how rough-looking the clown community is without make-up. A win-win for the reader. Remember, all you’re doing is putting the basic image in the readers head; it is up to them to make themselves laugh. If they don’t have the imagination to pick up that ball and run with it then it’s on them.

You owe them nothing, always remember that. It takes the pressure off.

Another key element to writing a pointless story is to avoid feeling that you can’t go for the cheap joke. Although all clowns are known to wear enormous shoes you should feel almost obligated to point out that the new leader of the clown union has big shoes to fill.

See what I did there?

And best of all if you are running a little light on word count you can revisit this joke any time you like. Just rifle through every stereotype you know about clowns and cram them into the story whether they fit or not. Like when thirty clowns come pouring out of one clown car except in reverse. Take something as ordinary as a clown throwing a pie into someone’s face. You can transform it into high comedy by replacing typical union thuggery and making it a ‘drive pie.’

Now you’re getting the hang of it.

You can even invent different clown unions that cover hobos, children’s clowns, character clowns and even rodeo clowns. Inventing friction between them is worth at least a paragraph.

Then, just when the reader is convinced that he or she knows where the story is headed you’ll want to take a quick turn and change their expectations. Throwing in a quick quotation like “It seems plausible that folly and fools, like religion and magic, meet some deeply rooted needs in human society” will allow your reader to assume for a few seconds that you are referencing clowns but then realize that you could be making a profound criticism about unions. You use their intelligence against them! Of course this quote was about clowns but because your reader doesn’t want to be caught napping they assume you are smarter than you are.

Didn’t I say this was simple?

When you are finished you might feel the urge to go back and change things in order to improve the story. Don’t. It never works. You see your subconscious likes to weave itself into even the most mundane writing and when you go back and change things you are letting your conscious mind make all the decisions. It might be a subtle change but believe me it will change something that you’re probably not even aware of.

Trust me on that.

The ending? Take whatever you are discussing and try to make a point that the reader has both been expecting all along and yet does not see coming. You’re a writer now, aren’t you? All you have to do is define exactly what that is in as much detail as you can and then make the observation that you also just did a pretty good job of describing a clown.

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