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Creating Fiction In Five Minutes

published by F & W publications

You have 5-minutes to write a story, selecting one of more than 300 "cues" at random. Immediately start writing and don't stop until the time is up. The rules of Fast Fiction are simple; the results, liberating. The timer brings energy to the surface and the topic focuses your attention. By imposing a deadline, they force you to write spontaneously, bypassing the inner critic and allowing your voice -- as well as surprising images and associations -- to emerge on the page. Revise them using this method into micro fictions, short stories, novels, memoirs and more--one sure step at a time.

A Never-Ending Idea Generator


You can use the exercises over and over, with dramatically different results each time.


“This is one of the most useful books on fiction writing I have ever read. Like many a good idea, it's a simple one, yet the applications are far-ranging, from the basics to some of the more sophisticated elements not only of short shorts, but longer stories and even novels. I recommend it highly."


--Robert Shapard, Editor with J. Thomas of New Sudden Fiction, Sudden Fiction Continued.

"A fun and useful handbook. In Fast Fiction,Roberta Allen has created a quick course in constructing quick fiction -- complete with prompts to start, bells to stop, and tips on revision to make your work not only good and quick but quick and good."


--James Thomas, Editor with R. Shapard of New Sudden Fiction, Sudden Fiction Continued.

"Allen has come up with hundreds of quick-as-a-kiss exercises that take aspiring fiction writers from blank page to story in only five minutes. Beginning or experienced writers will enjoy this seductive sprint."


--Allen Woodman

"Look at this! -- a how-to manual for constructing little rainbows (also known as 'short short fictions'). Extensive, imaginative and eminently helpful. The wisdoms of an expert compiled into a crafty do-it-yourself guide for beginners of all kinds and experiences."


--Barry Yourgrau

"Any writer, at any level of experience, will bless Roberta Allen for writing this book. She'll take you up that mountain one step at a time. What welcome relief from the terror of the blank page!"


--Monica Wood

"Thank you! Your book Fast Fiction was so helpful to me. I did a four-hour workshop, and it was good thanks to you!”


--Luisa Valenzuela





An Anything-Can-Happen Workbook To Inspire And Delight



Published by Houghton Mifflin

"Not since Brian Eno's 'Oblique Strategies' have I found a more creative and helpful collection of ideas and methods to shake myself out of patterns and get me out of big jams. This is a brilliant book!"

-- Laurie Anderson, Artist 


"Roberta Allen's emphasis on energy goes right to the heart of the matter of how you proceed to transmute feelings into workable prose."

--Anne Bernays, author of WHAT IF?

"So much of the enterprise of writing is about finding your voice, your material and your courage. Roberta Allen's dynamic workbook can be a vital companion on that journey."

-- Elizabeth Benedict, author of Almost and The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide For Fiction Writers


"I love THE PLAYFUL WAY TO SERIOUS WRITING and recommend it in the classes I teach at the local university."

--Sheri McConnell, Founder and President, National Association of Women Writers

Drawing on extensive experience in teaching creative writing and a lifetime of free creative expression, Roberta Allen, short story writer, novelist, memoirist, has created a unique book of writing prompts that can be used for stories, novels, plays, memoirs, monologues, sketches, journals and more. Packed with hundreds of timed verbal directives, many combined with drawings and photographs by the author, this is a sourcebook of ideas and a trusted creative companion.

"Roberta Allen manages the nearly impossible here: a workbook provocation to new writing that is witty, shrewd, often wondrous, and a book to be returned to again and again. Most writing guides devolve into therapy. But "The Playful Way to Serious Writing" aspires to art." ​

-- Robert Polito, Former Director Graduate Writing Program, New School University​


"Roberta Allen's book has the same qualities as a wonderful teacher: It tells you where to look but not what to see; it offers freedom but doesn’t set you adrift; it provides substance without overwhelming, and sustenance without smothering. If you?ve been looking for the writing book to get you started and keep you going, this is it."

-- Alan Ziegler, Former Chair, Writing Division, Columbia University School of the Arts

"The Playful Way to Serious Writing is the perfect guidebook for people who don't believe in such things. Roberta Allen's clever, oblique exercises capture the mystery behind essential, tiny details and offer direction while leaving room for the individual imagination to soar."

-- Ken Foster, author of The Kind I'm Likely to Get; editor of The KGB Bar Reader

“A refreshing, unpretentious, fun, and disarming book for any writer who wants to loosen up and break out of a frump slump. Allen's book is especially useful for young or beginning writers who only think they have no good ideas for stories; how quickly they will be relieved to see just how wrong they are."

-- Brad Watson, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard University

“This book is to writing what a dousing rod is to finding water. Roberta Allen enables us to tap into that inner energy we need to make words -- and ourselves -- come alive."

-- Hannelore Hahn, Founder & Executive Director, The International Women's Writing Guild

"Allen's workbook is full of fun, quick and easy exercises to get your creative juices flowing, and maybe make you feel a little bit like a kid again, too."
-- Samantha Puckett, The St. Petersburg Times

"Roberta Allen's approach recognizes the serious creative beneifts of being playful. Her unique book helps reawaken the writer to discovery and surprise."

-- Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author of Writing from the Inside Out


​"In this delightful book, Roberta Allen guides you to unleash your creative energy. If you practice her method sincerely you'll never experience "writer's block" again. And, you'll awaken new perceptions and perspectives that will expand and enrich your world."

-- Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo daVinci and Discover Your Genius



A Creative Workbook to Inspire Self-Discovery

Published by Houghton Mifflin

At first glance, THE PLAYFUL WAY TO

KNOWING YOURSELF appears to be a book you could breeze through in an afternoon. But after spending a few minutes with author Roberta Allen's format, one soon discovers that there is a whole world of self-discovery packed into these 213 pages.



Allen's book is unlike any workbook I have ever used or read. The writing prompts have much greater impact because she has paired them with photographic images that draw us in or push us further in our dreaming, our thinking, and our writing."​



--Lee Ambrose, Naples, FL, Story Circle Reviews



​​In THE PLAYFUL WAY TO KNOWING YOURSELF, Roberta Allen reveals a method for seeing yourself and others from angles and perspectives you would not otherwise see. This innovative approach--which uses Roberta's verbal directives combined with her photographs--may be used as a journal, as inspiration for personal stories and memoirs, or as a serious tool for self-knowledge, The Playful Way to Knowing Yourself will take you on an illuminating personal journey. In the end you will know yourself better than ever before.


"A delightful primer on building self-awareness that manages to blend real insight with the simple, unexpected power of play.

--Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author of Writing From the Inside Out


"Roberta Allen manages to accomplish the impossible--inspiration from a how-to book. By using her methods you will discover the powerful inner voice lurking behind the fear."

--Rabbi Yehuda Berg, author of The Power of Kabbalah

"In THE PLAYFUL WAY TO KNOWING YOURSELF, Roberta Allen provides self-seekers and frustrated creators alike with a fun, reassuring way to tap into their creative juices. An original book the really does the trick."

--Suzanne Falter-Barnes, author of How Much Joy Can You Stand?

"I've looked endlessly for a book to help me bring my attempts at writing essays alive. THE PLAYFUL WAY TO KNOWING YOURSELF immediately had me tapping into parts of myself I didn't know existed. Each time I've completed an exercise I've come away with something new."

--From a review by Linda S. Dupie, writer


"I love your exercises!"

--Sarah Powers, age 11

"Serna Village is a transitional living program that helps homeless people to help themselves. We came across your book, THE PLAYFUL WAY TO KNOWING YOURSELF and presented it to the participants in our programs. They love it! And are going to make a support group centered on your book. We will also encourage its use by other programs.

--Steffanie Cline, CHI Living Skills Coordinator for Cottage Housing, Vice President, Resident Council, Serna Village

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