Have You Discovered Very Short Stories?

*peeks out of Editing Cave*

*sees life has carried on*

*puts on pants and cracks neck*

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I return to society having finished the first draft and first round of edits for my next book. It’s now in the hands of a couple of talented critique partners, and while I wait for their notes, I thought I’d share something fun I found on Twitter. It’s primarily for writer-types but really anyone can play, and certainly anyone would enjoy reading the results.

The Challenge

You can find the one I do under #vss365 (vss stands for Very Short Story). There are some other tags for similar ideas–I think #bravewrite is one but I haven’t looked into it as much. In any case, the goal is simple: write a tweet-sized (280 characters) story inspired by a daily prompt. Like these.

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E474A07E-5FEB-441D-9407-50D3D8CB4085

38543A41-48DD-4D8B-B7C1-E762691CBCE6

02E4AB57-B3AC-41BC-926E-F0A923799742

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There are no genre rules. Some writers use the tag for poetry. They can be silly like my first one up there, super dark like Matthew’s, poignant like LadyDay’s, or have a killer angle like DeRicki’s. Anyone can go to the tag to read, retweet, and like their favorite stories.

Now, you may wonder: Why would anyone want to write such a short piece?

To answer that, you need to see how writing short fiction of any length can develop your writing (I did a post about it here). When it comes to writing super short stories like VSS or the weekly Flash Fiction Challenges over at Carrot Ranch (which require a 99-word story), the first point in my linked post counts the most: Short stories force you to be concise. And let’s be honest: many writers struggle with that.

When you only have 280 characters (40-ish words) to work with, every word has to do some heavy lifting. There isn’t room to describe much of anything, delve into backstory, or establish setting. In order to tell a story in such a short space, you have to count on readers to do a lot of the work. That means knowing what you want them to think and dropping the right clues.

Take a look at my first one again. It was from today’s prompt, which was “glory.”

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How much do you know about this story that I didn’t say? What is the main character? What’s he like? Where is this happening? What happens next?

The point is you can relay a lot of information in few words, and in practicing super short pieces, you learn to spot the ones that don’t do as much. That skill transfers to longer pieces.

So if you’re a writer, give these short writing challenges a shot (and if you do, leave your twitter handle in the comments so we can find yours). If you’re a reader, remember to boost the stories you like. You may find a new favorite writer!

7 thoughts on “Have You Discovered Very Short Stories?

  1. I love Charli’s weekly challenge, and I try to participate whenever possible. Telling a story in under 100 words hones your skills and forces you to eliminate unnecessary words. I write a piece of flash every day. Great post, Alison.

    Liked by 1 person

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