After the meaty, narrative stories of the past few days, I have a fresh challenge for you today: write something extremely short that still can be defined as a ‘story’
Write a story in exactly 100 words
Beware don’t expect this to be fast, just because it’s short.
Writing a complete story in 100 words takes a lot more time than any average 100 words in the middle of a longer story.
Crafting a complete story in 100 words is not easy. It is, however, quite satisfying.
- Super-short stories have to pack an emotional punch in very few words. Concentrate on one moment, one incident, that holds huge significance for a character: the moment they first made eye contact with their baby; seeing the first crocus of spring after a hideous winter full of drama and despair; standing on stage in the moment of silence before the applause starts…
- You’ll want to save the majority of your words for the build-up to the climax. Think about how many words you can afford to spend setting the scene (maybe 25?) and how many you want for the resolution (10?). Can you create a resonant story in 65 words?
- Choose adjectives carefully. You don’t have much room.
- Make words do double duty. Instead of saying ‘he walked across the room, shaking with rage’, say ‘he stalked away’, saving five words. You might even be able to cut it further by making “Stalked off” a complete sentence.
- Don’t feel you have to hit 100 words on the first pass. Write the story, then go back through and intensify things by making your verbs more active and pruning as much dead wood as you can.
- Imply as much as you can. Leave gaps. Let the reader work a bit.
As you may have noticed by this point, it’s a different kind of challenge to write a story every day than it is to work on the same story every day for a month.
If you haven’t started collecting Story Sparks yet, now would be a great time to start writing down stray thoughts and observations as you about your day.
You’re doing great, but we have 27 more ideas to come up with, before the month is over.
Future-You will thank Past-You as they browse through all the ideas you’ve collected along the way, while away from your desk!
Julie is the founder and host of StoryADay May. She creates challenges, courses and community for writers at StoryADay, on podcasts and conferences. She often relies on Past-Julie. Sometimes it even works out well…
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51 thoughts on “Day 4- 100 Word Story by Julie Duffy”
The 100-word challenge provides a keen focus for my easily distracted brain. I love it so much. Last year was the first time I’d ever tried to write one and it hit the spot again, this year. I love what this prompt requires of me. Thank you.
This one was a bit easy, but as I shared on one of your youtube videos I have a short serious on Kindle . 11 stories so far that are exactly 1263 words. I did take a few extra days before something came to mind but here it. And thanks for all the prompts.
Abbey beginning spinning with her arms out like a ballerina in the middle of her small row house back yard. Titling her head back skywards. Bailey put herself in a toe spin flinging her arms outward pretending the Olympic-gold is hers. Facing the open bright sky with eyes closed. Courtney tip toed her way onto the basketball court spinning like a top. Stretching her hand outward and face beckoning towards the sun eyes closed tightly. Zoey, the mischievous fairy saw all this through her crystal globe, snapped her fingers. Abbey was sent to Bailey’s, Bailey zapped to Courtney’s, Courtney to Abbey’s.
I did mine late, but I like it! Super fun. Thanks Julie for the challenge!!
The sun peeks over the horizon. Earlier and brighter than yesterday.
As I hold my husband’s hand a calmness consumes me. We had been in this hospital room an entire season. April’s rains mirrored our sentiment. Winter’s blistering cold reflected our faith at times.
But we fought through.
Cancer is a son of a bitch.
The doctors just left their morning rounds. My husband’s report shows that the cancer cell count is rapidly approaching zero.
He squeezes my hand.
Together we smile towards the sun, basking in the hope that it’s rising brings for this next season of our lives.
Where I am currently camping in my RV, we’ve had a storm about 4:00 am every morning all week. So, thought I would write a shortie about a prayer I speak every time the storm comes. 99 words!
Was that thunder? Was I dreaming?
Nope. Thunder. Not again!
Father, please, no hail, no heavy winds, no lightening. Especially no hail, I ask in Jesus’ name.
Radar shows hail coming this way. Father, You’re more than able to keep hail in the clouds and send it away from us. Please, no hail, no heavy winds, no lightening, I ask in Jesus’ name.
Radar shows hail moving east. Father, keep it all moving away from us.
Hallelujah! Thank You, Father! Thank you, Jesus! No hail, no heavy winds, no lightening! Thank you for hearing my prayer ! I love You!
The 100 word story is such a challenge for me! I had a good time figuring out why the hugely significant moment was significant for the character (derived from a story spark I picked up the other day! it was a carefully-stacked bunch of zines left on the sidewalk on the only hill in town). I only got it down to 300 words before stopping for the day, but even just the process of getting that far, I felt like I was learning things. 🙂 (I did this one on the designated day, to be clear! Just commenting late again)
Day 4 done.
Emma’s needle slipped, pricking her finger. Tears filled her eyes despite her determined strength. Placing the embroidery in her lap, she brushed the tears away and pressed her bleeding finger into her handkerchief, ready from the last time it happened.
He lay on the bed. As white as the sheets. They all had great fears that he wouldn’t survive. The doctor held no hope. Jack had lost so much blood. He hadn’t regained consciousness.
How had she caught these feelings for him? Her heart ached. She couldn’t love him, he was just a friend. She would be lost without him.
How does one propose to a Vulcan at Woodstock?
Today, I found out.
But first, I took a friend to catch the bus to NYC on not much sleep, then took a lovely nap. =)
I do love drabbles! Especially Vulcan-centric ones. =)
2nd 100 word story: (I found this exercise easy! And very helpful at getting to the point).
When they brought Donna’s baby to her, she couldn’t believe she had blonde hair and blue eyes since Donna was a brunette. Already amazing.
Donna’s husband hadn’t wanted a baby yet. He wouldn’t agree on a name for the baby but when a nurse asked her if she wanted to name her before she went home, Donna named her Christina.
On her last day in the hospital, Donna had Christina dressed for home, but her husband was three hours late and didn’t apologize.
Rocking Christina at home, Donna hoped she wouldn’t have to love her alone. But that was possible.
Your story left me asking for more, Valerie. (I guess that’s the whole point why stories get written in the first place.)
You have conveyed so much within the word limit of hundred words. You mentioned Donna, Christina by their names but didn’t mention Donna’s husband’s!
Besides, something seems to be genuinely missing in their relationship. Donna’s husband didn’t want a baby yet. Not did he agree on a name – clear indications of some kind of strained relations between the couple.
But what I liked the most was the way you concluded the story with the last paragraph – Donna hoped she wouldn’t have to love her alone. But that was possible. WHY? Why was it possible for Donna to have to love their child alone? They have had their first baby and things should be different, shouldn’t they? Or, was there someone else involved? A kind of love triangle?
You see, there are endless possibilities. And that is the reason why I like your story so much.
Keep writing and sharing. Stay blessed.
Rathin! Thanks for replying! (You are such a good writer, btw). I can really use your thoughts on my story, you mentioned lots of things for me to think about. Now I wonder if, as well as including her husband’s name, I should have given a clue as to why they were having problems in their marriage. A love triangle hadn’t entered my mind and as you say there are plenty of possibilities. Grateful for your thoughts!
This was interesting. What I wrote isn’t very good, but it made the word count.
“I had a good time.” Her smile felt like sunshine.
“Me too.” He grinned, took her hand.
They fell into each other’s eyes as the night wrapped around them. Catching herself, she took her hand back and sat on the porch swing. “Isn’t it a gorgeous evening?” Will he stay awhile? She kicked off her shoes, folded one leg under her and let the other dangle.
His eyes followed the movement of her slim calf, then he looked into her eyes. Waves of courage washed over him.
He marched over to her, pulled her into his arms, and kissed her.
Yes, a satisfying challenge! The baby prompt was so powerful, I got it in 85 words eventually:
You are a small, scrunched knot, unbunching, kicking into the light and new life. You jerk, stab a foot upwards — you haven’t quite got the knack of it. I haven’t quite got the knack either. I’m coming to terms with you. You must also come to terms with me, and all there is.
You spring a punch – your fist startles open, hailing the world, and then you scrape the air with minute fingernails.
Hail, my own child. Already, you’re remaking everything. You’ve remade me.
I love the picture your word choices paint.
This was a hard prompt for me, which means- of course- it was good for me to try! I went way over at 172 words, but I think I’ll try to get it down to 100, because I feel like the challenge was to only use words that push the story along…each word needs careful consideration. Very hard to rush through this one, for that reason. Thanks, Julie!
Yup, this one seems like it’ll be fast, but it’s can actually take a while. Satisfying, though…
My story started at 154 words and ended up at exactly 100. It’s a true story about my father. He’s always loved to sing and whistle (has a great voice). In the last year, he had a heart attack, a triple bypass and now cancer. He rarely complains, but I can tell how he’s feeling. No whistling or singing means it’s a bad day. Some whistling and singing means he’s staying positive. Lots of singing and whistling means the day is going okay.
“So what do you think?” my wife asked as she sipped her tea. Her boss has offered her a raise to stay in her crappy job that she’s complained about for the last year. Not just the job, but the whole line of work. And I get it. It’s tiring work that’s taking a physical toll on her. Which makes it all the more confusing now that she seems inclined to accept the raise.
I sip my own tea to buy myself time. Even spousal messengers can be shot for delivering bad news.
“You’re making a mistake,” I don’t say.
This one was hard to do exactly 100 words. I got 111 words but the day is still young so I might give it another shot after dinner. It’s still a continuation of prompts 1-3.
Actually did a word count and just over 3,000 words. More than I estimated. Very proud of myself
I used to be good at 100 word stories. The last time I participated, 100-word stories were all I wrote I think.
Today the story is still at 130 words and I don’t know how to make it any shorter. I’ll let it rest for now, see if I can cut some more later.
Day 4 ✔️
Day 4 completed ✔️ Yay!!!
Didn’t think I could get 2 characters, dialogue and a complete scene in 100 words. First try was 228 words, then edited to:
Rina swore the jeep hit every rut in the road.
”Are we almost there?”
“Patience.” Trevor’s disembodied voice held a grin. “And don’t touch that blindfold.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” she muttered.
“Surprise for your birthday,” Trev said reasonably. “Flowers are cliche.”
The engine cut.
“Out,” he said. “Sit.” A slight pressure on her shoulders. Then, nothing.
She strained her ears.
Finally, a squeak? A whine?
Reaching toward her.
Then, a warm, wiggly bundle in her lap. She pulled off the blindfold just as the puppy’s velvet tongue licked her chin.
Very nice Kathy!
Thank you, Alison!
Loved the 100-word story challenge! Now back to yesterday’s prompt that I’ve not yet written about. 😊
May 4 2023
The line went dead. She was still on the other side, mouth open mid-sentence, tears rolling out of the corner of her eyes which were wide in disbelief. She looked around at the home they had built together, the toddler bed in the corner, his clothing hanging on the left side of the closet he had built with his own two hands. She let out a deep howl as she scraped the painting of Guatemala they had done together off the wall. She slumped into a pile of pain, unable to control her burning screams. She didn’t believe in divorce.
Lovely story, Ashley. The sentences are crisp and meaningful, and the pain and emptiness expressed poignantly.
Thanks for sharing such a story.
Thank you for the kind words!
That was fun! The best way for me to handle this was to not take it seriously at all. I wrote a six-haiku cycle about a writer’s epic quest to find peace and quiet in a houseful of barking dogs.
One of life’s great challenges. Glad you took it on!
As the writing human of 160 pounds of canine in two bodies, I can totally empathize! =D
[I knew that I couldn’t spend 25 words on the setting. So, there isn’t much in the way of setting in mine. I tried my best to adhere to the other instructions as far as practicable.]
Life, the Leveller :
I remember hot-headed Suraj telling me once about his near-fight with his father. Uncle, a lawyer, wanted him to follow into his footsteps. Suraj’s heart was on being a model.
Uncle died a dissatisfied man.
Shivani, Suraj’s spouse, came out of their son’s one day, crying. She’d caught him hooked on obscene video games again.
Aryan held his dad’s hand, threateningly.
Suraj couldn’t do a thing.
The painful face of his father came back to haunt him.
He wished he wasn’t as reckless as his son was.
Suraj has tears in his eyes whenever he mentions his late father now.
A 100 Word Story takes more pondering than I wish to do today, so I’ve saved this to my “someday” file. Regardless, it was still a successful day, because I wrote today. Day 4 – Win 4!
Absolutely. High five!
I love writing 100 word stories. Thanks, Julie!
Right there with you both!
This morning – before coffee, yet! – I solved the New York Times crossword puzzle, that’s the tricky Thursday one, in twenty-five minutes and six seconds. I finished Wordle in five guesses, maintaining my current forty-four game streak and sterling ninety-nine percent win rate. I made Genius in Spelling Bee without having to resort to the hints. I wrote a precisely one hundred word story for that fiend Julie at Story A Day on the very first try. The story is about a messenger pigeon that must get through to prevent entrapment by the enemy. This post is one hundred words long.
Quick! Buy a lottery ticket!
This was delightful!
Love how this prompt makes you deeply consider each and every word. I wrote a story about a cat and the mouse she’s trying to catch, and the 100 word limit was really perfect for the idea. Managed to make it dual POV with super brief thoughts and reactions from both characters. Had lots of fun with it!
Really enjoyed the 100 words challange. Even though my head gets compleately twisted about it. Seeing the word count floating up and down before they finally settle on a 100. It feels like an writing and edititing prompt in one. Challanging and enjoyebel!
I agree. It’s so satisfying.
This only took me about 20 minutes to write, about 10 or so to actually write and the rest to pare down(and back up). Initial count: 118 words, 1st pass = 112 words, 3rd pass = 98 words(ugh, too far), 4th pass = 102 words, 5th pass = 100 words!
Another one for my selkie story, this one from the antagonist’s POV.
He broke into her home. She pointed her shotgun at him as he was running away.
Cassie was 84 years old and lived alone in a small trailer in the city. It was all she could afford. And this was not the best part of town. If she let him get away, he might come back and kill her. But if she shot him and he didn’t die, he very likely would be back.
When the cops came, she was lying on her shotgun saying she didn’t mean to kill him. “I must have fallen on my gun,” she said.
I’m writing in German, but today, I felt like translating my story.
It is a true story my uncle told me. It goes like this:
The gun in the pond
When the war was over, the Americans came to the houses to collect all the weapons. As soon as they left, Hilda remembered the gun. A broke guest had left it as collateral. It was lying at the bottom of a chest. Everyone got scared.
Margaret fetched the gun. “Can I have a look?” Gottfried asked. It felt heavy in his hand. He could have killed Hitler with it.
Then a shot went off. Blood ran from Margaret’s leg. “Oh,” said Gottfried.
Mother took the gun to the park. She threw it into the pond. It is still there today.
I like this Britta – short and sharp!
I like your story!
Funny that mine is about a shotgun, too. These stories are almost as short as a shot. 😉
I like your story!
Funny that mine is about a shotgun, too. These stories are almost as short as a shot. 😉
(This reply was first posted at the wrong place)
Don’t mess with old ladies (she says, looking forward to being one)