100 word story: writing challenge

I’ve been a kind of hot mess lately when it comes to free time. So one thing I’ve been doing, aside from reading Lois Lowry’s final novel in The Giver quartet, Son , is reading micro stories. In college, I was introduced to Micro Fiction , a compilation of tiny melodramas edited by Jerome Stern. All these years later, it still has a place on my boring desk.

The bible of tiny stories.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that proper revision takes forever. And as I sit and strike through all the adverbs and useless words in my novel, I sometimes crave producing something new. I have my next novel semi-planned in my head, but if I embarked on that future disaster, I’d never get this one finished.

So, I thought about creating a 100-word story in one sitting (which Boston Literary Magazine calls a “Drabble”). And then I saw that they have a 50-word story feature, too (a “Dribble”), so I immediately jumped on that train. Twice the challenge.

Warning! Self-promo, here: I heard back from friendly editor Robin Stratton very quickly. The result is “Reunion,” which was published in the Spring issue of Boston Literary Magazine .

I challenge you, as I dared my students, to give a 100-word story a try. I actually upped the ante even more by giving them 5% of the content: I gave them 5 words that they had to include. I find this to be a great way to get ideas churning when you have empty-brain syndrome. So, here’s the scoop: try your hand at writing a 100-word story that contains the words “blue,” “glass,” “clang,” “shirt,” and “desire.”

I challenged myself to complete it (with 5 different words) too. I’ll send mine over to anyone who requests it. It’s currently out for submission, so I’m choosing not to publicly share.

The rules:

  • You must use all of the words.
  • Titles do not count in the final word count.
  • Your story shouldn’t have an ambiguous ending. It can’t be a paragraph that should be tied up in a later chapter, in other words. It also shouldn’t be just an image. It should do what every good novel does, and tell a story.
  • Your story has to be exactly 100 words—not 99 or 101.

Good luck. I’d love to see what you come up with in the comments section!

2 thoughts on “ 100 word story: writing challenge

  1. The kids were playing. The little girls were shrieking haphazardly, seeming to enjoy the effect. The sky suddenly seemed like a bruise as the breeze blew in; the storm was starting. Everyone grew quieter and a few diligent mothers called in their kids. The other kids looked lost. When the first hailstones fell the shrieking and shouting renewed: this was novelty. The storm didn’t last long but the grass was loaded with dime-sized hail. The kids went to show their parents, pulling at their arms. Look! The stunned grown-ups were unsure of their reactions, finally saying, ‘Come in now’, abstractedly.

  2. Ellen Cotton

    He clanged her glass with the toast, yet she still felt blue. The other diners conversed, while she stared at his printed shirt. She thought to herself if she could only begin the ending, then she would feel better. Their relationship began with a lot of desire, but the spark had fizzled, and now she would only feel peace were he gone. “John, I can’t do this anymore” she said. He smirked, and said “Thank God. At least we have finally come to an agreement.” She had begun the ending, and all were in agreement. They stood up, and left.

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