This week I contributed the writing prompt to the magazine Rookie. Learn more about slipstream and then follow the prompt to write your own piece.
Greetings, Rookies! I’m Karen Finneyfrock, and I write poetry, YA novels, and short stories. Here are the opening paragraphs of a short story I wrote called, “Before We Go Quiet.”
“I’m like you. I love my mother. I pick chocolate cake on my birthday. I would take all the abandoned animals and love them to stuffing if I had a house big enough to keep them. I don’t like the news. I don’t like to see plant beds that aren’t watered enough or wide green lawns that aren’t near a river. I see ghosts too. Everything is haunted in some way. The metal chairs that line the gravel walkway, the military helicopters that can function as planes, the jean shorts and fringe tops of the tourists, all full of ghosts, seated or flying or worn as a second skin. Ghosts, everywhere with us. Not that I need to tell you.”
This short story uses two devices. First, I employ the second-person point of view, which is less common than using first-person POV. I wrote this piece to an imaginary “you.” Second, the story is written in the form called slipstream, the literature of strangeness. Slipstream stories usually take place in the known world, around familiar objects. There is a realism or familiarity to the locations, characters, or events. Those elements tend to distinguish the writing from fantasy or science fiction, which often visit a magical setting.