Dust Bowl Chemistry, Invisible Nazis

Five stories, one prompt and an invitation for reader response

By the FewerThan500 Editorial Staff

The writing prompt is one of the most convenient tools available to writers trying to get past that lingering question, “What should I write about?” Now and then even seasoned writers need something to help drive them forward.

FewerThan500 editor and publisher Ritta M. Basu was recently trying to push through a writing block when she went looking through her prompts box. She came across a prompt that she received from flash fiction professor and Pushcart Prize winner David Schuman during the 2014 Summer Writer’s Institute at Washington University. Basu brought the prompt, a page from a 1933 yearbook, to the FewerThan500 Editorial Board, challenging the site’s entire editorial team to join her in using the prompt to create their own original flash fiction.


We share the results of our writing exercise here in an effort to highlight how a single prompt can lead writers’ minds in many different directions. We also want to invite our readers to join in the exercise. As evidenced by these stories, the yearbook page was a very loose prompt for some of our editors, while others took content directly from the page to create their stories. What story does the prompt evoke for you?

We look forward to seeing what the prompt inspired for FewerThan500 readers. We plan to add our favorite submissions we can add to this collection. Send us your stories with Yearbook Response in the subject line to stories@fewerthan500.com. Deadline for responses is March 15.

Readers may be wondering about the title of this post. You’ll have to read the stories to discover the clues.  Here they are:

Reunion by Kevin Moriarity
Across America by Ritta Basu
The Virgin Astronaut by B. Fink
Helen Schock by H. Adam Ruffalo
Plans is Plans by Frank Rutledge

0 thoughts on “Dust Bowl Chemistry, Invisible Nazis”

Leave a Reply