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I need discipline, damn it! I’ve had two stories rolling around in my head for sometime now. One I see as a shorter, flash fiction piece; another as a full-length short story. I have other snippets that I see as fitting into stories in the future. Maybe into micro-fiction 100 word stories? Hmm.

My goal this past weekend was to write the flash fiction story (500-100 words) in anything but first-person point of view. I’m a first-person story teller and I really want to get out of “my” way and stretch my fiction story writing chops. I’m studying fiction writing on my own.

I sit down to the keyboard and I’m not “slow writer,” but frozen writer. I know, I know. I’m supposed to write – anything! The story’s there, but nothing’s coming out.

This morning I get up and—like the poem—a story is dancing in my head. I can’t wait to get to the keyboard! I know exactly what I want to say and the form I want to take; It feels like it should fit into a 100-word format. I type it, reach 100 words, adjust a few, and I’m done! Of course, it could be crap. I aim to set a tone and emotion in my stories and I’m not sure I hit the mark with this one. Yet, it felt right to me for a first try.

Surprisingly, I am exhilarated by the format; I think it may be the right tool for writing practice and discipline. Even though it’s not easy, looking at composing one hundred words is not psychologically daunting to me. I no longer wish to be a prisoner of my fickle muse.

I searched the 100-word story form and its rules. This is what I’ve found:

  • It’s just one of many short short-story forms, or flash fiction forms, with varying word count requirements. The most famous attributed to Hemingway, a six-word story: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.
  • It has to be exactly 100 words! That is probably the most difficult and restricting requirement. It does force you to choose your words wisely, cut the fat. I find that challenging in a fun, creative way.
  • Does it have to be a complete story: beginning, middle, end? This question is not completely answered in my search, at least not with black and white certainty. It’s more gray or open-ended. (If anyone reading this can contribute, please do).

At 100 Word Story, they write:

The whole is a part and the part is a whole. The 100-word format forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn’t. At the same time the brevity of the form allows the writer “to keep a story free from explanation,” as Walter Benjamin wrote.

Later, in their submission section, they further state:

But with 100 words you must tell the whole story in its entirety, so it holds together like a perfect little doll house.

The “whole story” is a stand-alone slice of the story within a story; a hint at the before and after, leaving the reader with enough information to fill-in the blanks with imagination.  I liken it to creating the center of a jigsaw puzzle.

You can find my first 100 word story here. I can’t wait to try more.

More resources for further interest:

How to write a 100 word story ~ for Genre Shorties

How to write a story in 100 words

How Short Can You Go? 50 to 100 Word Stories