Skip to main content

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 17

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write a second-person how-to.

As always, if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (or anywhere else), don’t forget to use the #FlashFictionFeb hashtag.

Flash Fiction Challenge

For today, let’s write a how-to guide in the second person.

Remember: These prompts are just starting points; you have the freedom to go wherever your flash of inspiration takes you.

(Note: If you happen to run into any issues posting, please just send me an e-mail at with the subject line: Flash Fiction Challenge Commenting Issue.)

Here’s my attempt at a how-to:

How to Get Married

First, get engaged. This is the easy part.

Within five seconds of being engaged, people will ask, “Have you set a date, yet?” Learn to field this question with a polite smile and a one-armed shrug. “Not yet” is not the answer they want to hear.

Realize quickly that the wedding industry is a money-sucking monster that will only be satisfied when you’ve hit your limit on all your credit cards. Be very clear with your partner that you will not be doing that.

Your partner will shrug apathetically and say, “Whatever you want.” Understand that this will be the only input you get from them until after you’re married.

Stay up for three days straight learning how to plan a wedding yourself. Read every budgeting blog, DIY article, and wedding website you can find. Create a reasonable budget and show it to your partner. “We can only have about 150 people in total for this budget to work,” you say. Accept their shrug as acquiesce.

Research venues within your budget. Try to look for ones within 10 miles of your home. Expand it to 20. Expand that to 50. Mark a few down. Your partner will drive you to each one, and you will find a few you like. Quickly realize that there are hundreds of hidden fees everywhere, and that very few places are actually within your budget. Take deep breaths. Research, visit, repeat.

Find a venue you like and can afford. Put the down payment on it. Field the first parental freak out—your partner’s mother wants to invite all 15 of her third cousins, which your partner hasn’t seen since they were four. Explain to your partner why this is an unreasonable ask when you have people you actually know and see that need to be on the list. Watch your partner coerce their mother into a calmer state. Watch them concede that 5 of the third cousins can come.

Drink a lot of wine.

Make hundreds of spreadsheets (to track the budget and spending) and checklists (for everything from attire to decorations to photography poses). The more that you do, the more there seems to be to get done. Only allow yourself to cry about it one time, when you realize that you’ve spent too long dithering about the food to get either of the caterers you wanted. Allow your partner to make some phone calls and then hug them so hard their ribs creak when they come through with a caterer in your price range that is available on your date.

Become a DIY master in the few hours between work and bed. Buy everything for very little cost at Jo-Ann’s or Walmart or eBay. Then spend hours and hours crafting centerpieces and signs and little random touches that will make your ceremony and reception Stand Out.

Fall into bed so exhausted every night that you don’t even have time to say goodnight to your partner. Take deep breaths when your bridal party is catty or your parents are rude or your partner doesn’t seem as invested in this whole rigamarole as you are. Remind yourself that it will all be worth it.

When you wake up the Morning Of, check your phone. Find a text from your partner: See you on the other side, baby. Allow yourself some tears of relief, of joy, of absolute bewilderment that you both made it this far.

Dry your face and get to work.

Your photographer will be late; the single vegetarian will complain about the food; someone’s plus-one will get too drunk and need to be escorted off the premises by your greasy, Italian uncles.

But when you catch your partner’s goofy grin from the other side of the dance floor, it will all have been worth it.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Author Sharon Maas discusses the 20-year process of writing and publishing her new historical fiction novel, The Girl from Jonestown.

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

While the writing process may be an independent venture, the literary community at large is full of writers who need and want your support as much as you need and want theirs. Here, author Aileen Weintraub shares 6 steps in becoming a good literary citizen.

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Journalist and author Daniel Paisner discusses the process of writing his new literary fiction novel, Balloon Dog.