Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

More Flash Fiction With Youth In Juvenile Detention

on October 2, 2009

Often when I am writing with the youth in juvenile detention, we use some type of structure to get us started in either our poetry or our Flash Fiction. For example, we may read a poem and use a similiar first line. I usually ask the youth to draw on their life experiences when they are writing.

However, we also have three guidelines:

1. No glorified or grandiose writing. I explain that glorifying a crime or addiction takes away from the emotion of the piece. And we want others to connect through the emotion of our poems and writing.

2. No glorified violence or sex.

3. Watch the swear language. It’s often hard to totally limit all swearing out of their writing, although I tell them that swear words limits the chances that the writing will be published in our yearly chapbook of poetry.

As often as possible, I try to write with the youth and share my own writing. For example, the following is a piece of flash fiction I wrote based on my life using the flash fiction piece, “Nine Days” which was written by Suzanne LaFetra and published in Brevity Issue 24/Summer 2007 .


Number Of:

Times she’d been in trouble: 0

Years of school: 12

Age: 17

Small pink note delivered to her Independent Living class by an unsmiling student office assistant with her name and instructions to see the Senior Principal—NOW: 1

Open walkway hallways from her Independent Living Class to the office: 2

Double doors to open: 2

Boys waiting outside the office: 3

Girls waiting outside the office: 0

Vinyl red chairs in the outer waiting area: 6

Cushioned green chairs inside the assistant principal’s office: 2

Diplomas on the wall: 3

Large deep cherry wood desk: 1

Handwritten note with one misspelled word—Excuse: 1

Days of In-School Suspension Received: 5

Swim Coach who advocated for her: 1

Suspension afternoons allowed at the pool where she watched her team practice: 2

Lanes in the pool: 6

Bleachers were she sat and timed practice 100 Freestyles: 1

Meets missed: 2

500 Meter Swim Event Missed: 2

400 IM Medleys Event Missed: 2

Marlboro Light 100 Cigarettes smoked on the drive home: 2

Air freshener sprayed in the car when she pulled in the driveway: 1

Prayer she made for high school to be over: 1


3 responses to “More Flash Fiction With Youth In Juvenile Detention

  1. angela says:

    Can I just say I think it’s wonderful what you’re doing? Good for you!!

  2. Thanks Angela. I enjoy working with the kids and seeing them write too.

  3. Your pieces are powerful. The kids must look forward to your coming and offering them an outlet for their thoughts.

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