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Flash Fiction and Visual Stories By Katie Gordon

Š 2012 Katie Gordon Grid design, introduction, six-word story description and five-frame story description by Scott Jost. Used by permission.


Flash Fiction and Visual Stories By Katie Gordon


Art 220, Introduction to Digital Media, introduces foun dation-level ideas, skills, concepts, and processes to support development and cultivation of digital media literacy in an art context. Digital media literacy, in this course, includes selecting and using basic digital tools and media appropriate to one’s creative and communicative intent, independently accessing resources needed for self-learning, growth, and change, and preparation for success in intermediate and advanced digitally-based courses in the art department at Bridgewater College. 6 x 5: Flash Fiction and Visual Stories, the final project in Art 220, synthesizes skills and concepts in digital foundations, typography, and photography introduced earlier in the course with new concepts including verbal and visual narrative, publication design, and digital publishing.

Six-word Stories

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. The six-word story form is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, who may or may not have written this story in response to a bet made by writers lunching with him at the Algonquin Hotel. Later, Hemingway supposedly claimed this story as his finest work. Six-word stories are a category of flash fiction, a group of literary forms characterized by extreme brevity. There is no strict definition of flash fiction, also known as sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, postcard fiction and short short story; the terms having been applied to works from six to a thousand words. Flash fiction forms share most story elements (protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution) with more conventional short stories. However, while many of these elements are explicitly treated in conventional short stories, in microfiction they are often suggested or implied. The six-word stories and other flash fiction formats are well suited to participatory online literary spaces, though they are also published in print magazines and collections. Contemporary six-word story projects abound, including Six Word Stories launched by producer and videographer Pete Berg in 2008, Smith Magazine’s Six Word Memoirs begun in 2006, and Six Word Story Every Day, a 2010 collaboration between designer Anne Ulku and writer Van Horgen. All three projects claim Hemingway’s probably apocryphal six-word story as inspiration.

Sunset. Colors all arranged. imaged captured.



Changes in a blink.

Five-frame Stories Five-frame stories are short visual narratives comprised of five sequenced images, usually photographs. Aside from a title, no additional text is used to direct the story’s meaning. Five-frame stories provide a visual corollary to six-word stories. Like six-word stories, five-frame stories share many elements found in more conventional forms of fiction. The Flickr group Tell a story in five frames (Visual story telling) states, “A good story has characters in action with a beginning, middle, and an ending. Fortunately a lot of information can be given in a single photograph, enhancing the limitations of five photographs for your story. Location, time, and atmosphere aid viewer imagination.”

Tell a story in five frames (Visual story telling) was begun in 2004 by Subhasish Karmakar, an Indian creative director in the interaction design and visual communication fields. While the origins of five-frame stories are uncertain Tell a story in five frames (Visual story telling), with over 11,000 members, is perhaps the form’s most prominent venue.

Flash Fiction and Visual Stories  

Book made in Digital Design