Tell me a story in 55 words

An excellent cartoon by Tom Gauld for The Guardian.

Could you do it? Can I do it? Hhmmm.

In my attempt to write every day this month, I combined a word-count challenge with the Story A Day in May challenge. I’ve been writing 250 or more words every day (except that one day when I could not be bothered to write more than 10 words) for the past 12 days. Today is Day 13. I’m so proud.

Each day, the creator of Story A Day in May, whose challenge caters to fiction writers, posts writing prompts. They are useful for getting the creative juices flowing. I’ve ignored most of them, but I filed the prompt for Day 8: 55 Fiction, because it looked like an excellent exercise in constraint.

In 55 words, I am to write a story with a beginning, middle and end. Title is not included in word count, and it cannot be more than seven words. The story needs at least one character, some sort of conflict and conflict resolution. And, the last sentence should provide some sort of “shock” value.

I like brevity. I like concision. I like shock. How hard can 55 words be?

So, here’s my first attempt at 55 Fiction:

From Poor Syntax, Joy Springs

It was the worst thing she’d read. The sentences were incoherent; words tumbled one after the other, tripping each other, entangling one another. Grammar, appeared; out, of, nowhere. Descriptions fell flat. Actions under-performed. There were no plot lines, no character development. Heck, there weren’t even characters! Then, realization dawned. She’d found her misplaced to-do list.

Awesome, yes? Ha! In retrospect, this story contains way too much “writing humour,” but I ran with the first story that popped into my head. All in all, this type of exercise is perfect for helping me (or any writer) whittle words down to the bare bones of a message or story.

Which will help make my blog posts and Twitter tweets all the sweeter. Speaking of Twitter, check out the prompt for Day 13: Twitter Story:

“Write a story that would fit in a Twitter post (whether or not you’re on Twitter). 140 characters (yes, that includes spaces). No more. Maybe less. Go!”

Now, THAT is a short story.

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