Can You Write Pulp Fiction?

This Week In Writing, we celebrate classic pulp fiction and invite you to explore potentially untapped forms of creativity.

Can You Write Pulp Fiction?
Photo by Mitch Rosen / Unsplash

Before the 1994 movie by Quentin Tarantino, pulp fiction referenced pulp magazines. Published from the late 1800s through the 1950s, pulp magazines were precursors to comic books and graphic novels. Pulp magazines, or pulps as people commonly knew them, contained wild stories from sci-fi and crime noir genres printed on inexpensive, pulpy paper.

Pulps did not (and do not) hold the highest reputation — they weren’t winning any Pulitzer Prizes. However, they were a form of fiction and escapism that countless individuals loved and enjoyed.

Pulp magazines may no longer exist, but their fantastic cover art still does. The Pulp Magazines Project and The Pulp Magazine Archive contain scans from hundreds of pulps dating back more than 100 years. They’re a treasure trove of art and, for our purposes, inspiration.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to select a random cover from one of the websites listed as a source of pulpy inspiration. Ignore the title (you’re not trying to recreate the original story) and create your own flash fiction story based on the image. Want to get really creative? Use the PULP-O-MIZER to generate your own!

Many flash fiction formats exist, but let your creativity guide your writing. Publish your flash fiction story and link to it in the comments. I’ll highlight some of my favorites in a future newsletter. Please note that The Writing Cooperative does not accept fiction, so please do not send submissions.

I can’t wait to see what you create!

A version of this article also appeared on Medium.