If you dare, write short-shorts

Today is Friday and that means that at some point in the next 21 hours, I’m going to write 55 words which contain an entire story. I’m not that big on memes but this one (“55 Fiction Fridays”) is precious to me, because it reminds me of writing exercises and workshops and english minor-y goodness. Por ejemplo:

She nervously adjusted her sari, hoping no one noticed. So far, the night had gone flawlessly; she had made a good impression on everyone, she could just tell.

The older woman at the table noted how silk was tugged upwards. Taking a delicate sip of tea, she thought, “She’s not good enough for our family.”

I’ve consistently written one of these uber-short shorts for weeks now, but last week was the first time a fellow mutineer noticed. Abhi’s interest in the concept of nanofiction made me ponder the possibility that some of YOU would find it fascinating as well. If I further needed to justify making a mutiny out of it, know this: the good Professor Guest Blogger himself reads my “55” and I am aware of this because he referenced one at the last NYC meetup. Not that I need to defend it or anything… 😉

Flash fiction, also called sudden fiction, micro fiction, postcard fiction or short-short fiction, is a class of short story of limited word length. Definitions differ but is generally accepted that flash fiction stories are at most 200 to 1000 words in length. Ernest Hemingway wrote a six-word flash: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Traditional short stories are 2,000 to 10,000 words in length.[wiki]

That Hemingway example is ridiculously inspiring. One day I want to write a short that short. I don’t even know if there is a name for a short so short. There is, however, a name for the type of writing this meme encourages:

One type of flash fiction is the short story with an exact word count. An example is 55 Fiction or Nanofiction. These are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long.[wiki]

The virus is spreading throughout the brown blogosphere. SM readers Maisnon, Andrea and Chai are the three whom I go out of my way to check on (hee! no pressure, kids!), but if you decide to try it, please leave a link to your work of art in the comments. I’ll be happy if you flash me. 🙂

111 thoughts on “If you dare, write short-shorts

  1. A writer’s resignation

    Fingers move deftly across the dirtied pavement of the keyboard, cli-cli-cli-cli-clicking ad nauseum, until at last they pause.

    The inner voice urges them onwards, without mind, though there had never been anything left to say in the first place.

    When will I say “amen”?

  2. Life’s Too Far From Brooklyn

    Chicago! Land of glorious lights, of elevated trains, of Sandburg’s poems and Sandberg’s double plays, of daytime games and shirtless fans, and circular myths that may never go away–Chicago!

    Chicago, if only you weren’t so far away– if you were on the C, I might come Saturday.

  3. Everything Comes In Threes at about 2 a.m.

    Are the words of the sufis worth anything? “Nay!” I say. There is nothing in the world worth anything except a good Beatle’s lyric and a fresh cup of coffee in the morning.

    And I don’t drink coffee.

  4. Times New Roman or Ariel?

    She played a little more with the font, trying to decide which one was less aggressive, less cold and unforgiving. Castellar was too pretentious, Comic Sans too lively.

    She switched off the computer and wrote the leaving note by hand. At least he could remember her by something real.

  5. He let out a sigh as he walked to the corner with the bottle of wine he’d bought and hailed a cab. He was headed to that party with the lawyer who painted he’d seen a month ago.

    He knew that guy could have broken his nose in one punch, and he shook his head

  6. All that stood between Simone and her honeymoon was a report submission.

    “He is never on time!” she fumed, as the office clock ticked 8:45 AM. She could almost see the single-engine plane they were flying to Hawaii. She gazed at infinity in clear NY sky, to divert her mind.

    “Isn’t that plane flying too low?”

  7. Bong Breaker,

    Jai go to the bottom of the class for getting Star Wars dialogue wrong.

    I deliberately tweaked the original dialogue to make it fit my version. Go sit in the corner and write a 3000-word essay on why Jai shouldn’t be at the bottom of the class.

  8. Greetings to you. I will share this story with you and hope that it brings you one step closer to your Self.

    Swami A


    Ten patrons wait outside, hoping they will be allowed inside. They are wearing impeccable white dhotis, tied in the traditional manner; last week, a man used a belt to hold up the cloth. He was asked to leave, even though he explained that as an amputee he should be allowed some concession.