A short challenge?

My wife has been kicking around an idea or two in her head. She would like to write a story, but she is having trouble with the whole writing process. We were talking about this a couple nights ago.

“I’d like to start, but I can’t do it,” she said.

“Why not? National Novel Writing Month is coming up. You should do it with me.”

She shook her head. “I can’t write like that.”

“Why not?”

She wiggled her fingers. “Because I can’t type as fast as I think. I won’t be able to keep up.”

“Then try slowing your thoughts down. Take things slower.”

“I can’t do that,” she replied, laughing.

I smiled at her. “Then you need to practice. Why not start with a shorter piece? I challenge you to write a short short story. Write a 100-word story.”

She shook her head while she laughed. “That won’t work at all! That’s not enough space to get into the detail that I want. That I like to read.”

“Why do you need to write so much detail, then? Let me give you the main example. Ernest Hemingway – ”

“Ugh, I can’t stand Hemingway,” she scoffed.

“Still, he gave an excellent example of a short, short story. It was almost inadvertent. He was able to tell a story in just six words.”

My wife gave me a skeptical look. “Really?”

“Yep. I think it was during an interview.”

“OK, what are these six words?”

I extended my hands to help punctuate the sentence. “For sale. Baby shoes. Never used.”

She pondered this for a moment before giving me a sad look. “That’s so sad,” she said, her voice edged with tears.

“I know, isn’t it?”

“The poor baby died.”

“Did the story ever say that the baby died?”

She thought about this. “No, but still….”

“Exactly. It’s implied, but never actually stated. Just six words, but the way they’re presented creates great emotional impact. So, what do you think? Ernest Hemingway only needed six words. Do you think you can do it in one hundred?”

My wife gave it some thought. “Maybe. I’ll have to see what I can do.”

So, dear reader, what about you? Can you come up with a moving short story in 100 words or less? I certainly enjoy these sorts of challenges. What can you come up with?



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