Suppose you want to write a story about a big subject, say the destruction of Earth, but it’s too daunting. Try taking a minimal approach. Write about one person, perhaps not an important one, stuffing her future into a single suitcase as fast as she can. Use small details to illustrate big things, like the tree in the back yard that died so fast its leaves remain attached, green, freeze-dried, being shredded by the relentless gale. Pick moments that evoke epic events in miniature, like a bank’s front doors banging wide open in the wind, ignored, since money means nothing anymore. If you need an idea for a little big story, here are a few:
• This is a story set during a regional water shortage so severe that the local economy is failing and the population must decide whether to stay, go, or seek some sort of solution or accommodation.
• This is a story in which a miracle cure for obesity is discovered, and people rush to try it despite the complications.
• This is a historical novel about the witch hunts in Renaissance Europe when tens of thousands of women were killed.
— Sue Burke