As we have explored this year, flash fiction is more than a very short story. It is an excellent, skill-building practice. It can be used for various projects and applied to limitless assignments. One of the things everyone needs, especially writers, is an bio. When we submit work to magazines, enter contests, speak at events, and pitch ideas, we need to include an author bio.
I find that bios can be quite boring, especially when we’re given low word counts to work within. Creative minds tend to want to break out of the name-location-profession-hobby box. Unfortunately, this box is heavily taped. One hundred or fifty words just doesn’t seem to leave much room for our explosive ideas. Luckily, we’re practicing flash fiction. We’re used to telling a story in just a few words, and making our readers feel something. We’re used to leaving our readers wanting more. Isn’t that what a bio should do?
Becoming a Character
As a fun and productive exercise, let’s work on writing a flash fiction piece about ourselves that can double as our bios. Of course, this piece is all about the character. Everything else – including the background information we all love – fades into the background. Imagine yourself on a stage with everything else in your life behind the curtain. Only you are visible on the dark stage, illuminated by the spotlight. The theater is full, waiting for your monologue. Everyone is waiting to find out who you are.
What is most important? Who are you in this moment? What defines you, given your current position? What do you want your audience to know about you? Do you want to make them laugh, think, nod their heads? Do you want them to relate to you, or see you as an unknown creature? The answers to these questions would determine your approach.
Sample Flash Bios
Here are two examples of 100 word flash bios I wrote for myself which are both true, but give different perspectives on who I am.
Alicia Wallace is a tea aficionado. Curled up on her couch with a cup of earl grey, she ploughs through page after page of revisions to her women’s fiction novel. She ignores the ringing of her phone and the alerts popping up on her computer screen in favor of the world of fiction she has created for herself. She only stops when a piece of mail from a far away place makes its way to her desk. She never gets a letter without a tea bag because her penpals know it is the way to her heart.
Alicia Wallace uses the written word to share social and political commentary with fellow citizens of The Bahamas. Her criticism of government and policies are worn like scarves around her neck. Though the heat scorches her, she trudges toward a better world inhabited by enlightened and inspired changemakers. Powered by Coca-Cola and Nutella, she pens thousands of words every day, some of which are features on The Bahamas Weekly. The rest are reserved for her blog and well-read international publications with focus on social justice issues. From Los Angeles, California to Jordan, she always finds the story, reader, and medium.
The two bios paint two completely different pictures of the same Alicia. They tell of different kinds of writing, and different dimensions of the same person. In only 100 words, they give a fair idea of my interests and the focus of my work. This kind of bio is fun and easy to write, and reads like a mystery novel. This proves that you can make your bio romantic, thrilling, or comedic. The words will go wherever you tell them. You need only decide which parts of yourself you want to share, and how you want your reader to feel.
Working with only 100 words, it is completely reasonable to try your hand a few different styles. You can write from the perspective of your ten year old self, imagining who you are today. You can even write it like a eulogy. The possibilities are endless. You can weave together pieces of your life to create a beautiful tapestry to serve as your interesting, engaging bio for publications. Try your hand at a flash bio of 100 words, and share your best attempt in the comments. I can’t wait to read all about you, the writer.
Alicia Audrey is a writer, editor, blogger and social and political commentator living and working in Nassau, Bahamas. She enjoys writing flash fiction, and is currently working on a women’s fiction novel entitled The Whispering Willow. She prides herself on keeping the local post office open by sending far too many penpal letters and packages to friends and strangers alike on a weekly basis. Her favourite things include journals, tea, cupcakes, sarcasm, challenges, and autumn. She tweets her musings to everyone, but no one in particular, as @_AliciaAudrey.