Elizabeth: What Can You Do in 100 Words?

wordcloudThis week has been all about short stories.   As I mentioned a while back, I have a 5-year writing career plan and according to the schedule one of the tasks for this month is to start sending my short stories out into the world, rather than leaving them to gather dust in a drawer somewhere.

I’ve started with a few contests and magazines, including some that I found via the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio, one of the writing sites that I follow.  My short stories aren’t traditional romances, which is a good thing since I’ve yet to find many contests or magazines that are interested in short-story romances (if you know of any, I’d love to hear about them).

One contest that I came across in my research that I thought could be a fun exercise is the Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest. The rules of the contest are simple: in either Hebrew, English, Arabic, or Spanish, write a story in 100 words or less that reflect this year’s slogan Mandela: Words and Concord. Okay, maybe not so simple. The contest had over 22,000 entries last year though, so not impossible either.

So, what does a 100-word story look like? You can read the winners from last year’s contest here.

I tend to be pretty sparse in my writing, so this seems like something that would be right up my alley. I’ve been thinking all day about what kind of story I could write in 100 words. So far, they all wind up with someone dead in surprising circumstances. I’m going to keep brainstorming to see what other ideas I can come up with – hopefully something where everyone lives. We’ll see how that goes.

What kind of story would you write in 100 words?   Boy meets Girl. Dystopian society. Horror. Slice of humanity. I’ll post my own story once it’s finished.  In the mean time, I’d love to hear your ideas.

14 thoughts on “Elizabeth: What Can You Do in 100 Words?

  1. I tried flash fiction once, and I was terrible at it (although I’m not sure if 100 words is “flash”). I think I’m just not suited to that short a form. But your post made me wonder: how long is “Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham”? I bet some truly fine literature just about fits in the 100-word framework.

    • Kay – not sure about the total word counts, but according to the internet (and they’re never wrong, right?), the “Cat in the Hat” was 236 distinct words (he had been attempting to use only 225) while “Green Eggs and Ham” had 50 different words. Both were the result of challenges to write stories with a limited number of words. I guess contests and challenges are nothing new.

      • I felt challenged right there!

        I do not like to count my words
        I’d rather read the rules of birds
        Or thrash things out with fiction nerds.
        Counting words is not much fun
        So now I’ve said it, and I’m done!

        • LOL, super poetry, Kay! (I do think putting things in poetry can force us to pack as much meaning as we can into a few short lines. I had some major formatting issues with a chat group a few months ago, and decided to frame all my replies in haiku for a day until I could find a solution. Very difficult. Very fun. And I could actually say quite a bit in a series of 5-7-5 poems. I often wind up miscounting, though.)

  2. I tried 500 words here for my Alphabot challenge with Micki (loved her Gilded Age magical short story). I’d love to have a go at 100 words but I promised myself no more distractions until I’ve finished my WIP. I have to remind myself every time I see another Flash Fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds blog (some of those are very short and fun) and again yesterday when I saw this link – so very tempting – http://localheropress.ianthealy.com/submission-call-who-is-ebony-boneshaft-anthology/.

    • I hear you on the distractions Jilly. Fortunately, this is something I can brainstorm about when I’m commuting or at the store – time I don’t usually spend on my WIP anyway. Plus, I’m finding that anything that gets me thinking about story of any kind is helping my creativity. The link you’ve posted sounds like it could be fun, but I’ll try to restrain myself.

  3. Love this, and when I finish getting unpacked, I will either try my hand at it (or face the dragon of my manuscript). Short story writing was on my five-year plan, too, so I’m very interested in what you find out! There’s something so satisfying about crafting and completing something.

    BTW, my favorite 100-word “drabbles” came at the end of Cryoburn (by Lois McMaster Bujold). I think they may have needed the full force of a more-than-a-dozen books behind them, but they were so powerful. I don’t usually cry when I read fiction, but these short passages twisted my heart.

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  6. I don’t have anything of 100-word length, but if you’re willing to go longer, hunt up the New York City Midnight “challenges.” You have to pay to enter the contest; big prizes are on the line, and each quarter has a theme. I’ve done the Short Story Challenge SSC & this is my first year trying the Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC). The premise is that to move on, you have to place high enough in your heat; and each heat writes to the prompts that drop at midnight.

    In SSC, you’re given a genre, a character, and a subject. You have 2,500 max in round 1 to tell your story, and have 8 days. You get 2K words in 3 days for round 2. The insane final round, you have 1.5K and 24 hours.

    It’s a great practice in writing to deadline. FFC, you have 48 hours to write 1K words, and you’re given genre, location, and an object.

    Congrats on your 5-year plan, and happy writing!

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