Today’s writing prompt encourages you to keep things short
Write a 100 word story inspired by an aphorism
Remember: the prompts are only here as inspiration if you need them. Some people decide to write to all the prompts no matter what (to force themselves to stretch), but you can play any way you want!
Writing a 100 word story is a wonderful way to warm up and get some writing done even on a day when you are busy. It’s not necessarily faster to craft a 100 word story than it is to dash off 1200 words, but it is incredibly satisfying, and it sharpens your word-choice skills.
You’ll need to choose a character who embodies (or defies) the message of the aphorism, pop them in a situation where they can take an action and, ideally, give us an idea of how they are changing through their experience.
Julie Duffy is the Founder and Director of StoryADay.org. She began thus challenge in 2010 and is proud to have encouraged thousands of writers, since then. She never tires of hearing from writers whose StoryADay drafts turn into published stories, or gifts for friends, or other forms of art, so do please keep in touch!
Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!
Remember: I don’t recommend posting your story in the comments here (and I talk more about why not, here). Best practice: Leave us a comment about how it went, or share your favorite line from your story.
Today you’re going to write a were a story in 100 words. This also known as a Drabble.
Write a story in 100 words
With a story this short, you have about 25 words to open the story and about 10 words at the end to wrap things up. The rest of the words hold the meat of the story.
Often it’s easier to write the story a little longer and cut it down.
Being concise doesn’t mean leaving out detail. You just have to make sure (probably on a rewrite) that every word is doing double duty. If you’re describing something make sure it reflects the mood of the character as well, for example.
Don’t expect this to be a super-quick exercise. A hundred words is not many and it can be difficult to shoehorn a story into such a small space. You are going to need to build in time to revise it.
The good news is that writing a 100 word story and revising it still takes less time than writing a 3,000 word story.
If you need some inspiration check out the site 100 Word Story. Read a few to get the idea of what can be done with so few words.
Post a comment to let us know how you’re getting on, share your story, share tips or ask for help!
Ready for another break? This exercise is ‘easier’ than writing a 5,000 word story, only because it takes a little less time. It does, however, take 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.
Write a story in exactly 100 words
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.
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.
One of the first internet-era writing challenges I ever attempted was over at 100words.net . The challenge was to write 100 words (exactly) every day for a month (I think the brain behind the idea originally did it for 100 days, but by the time I discovered the challenge it was a calendar month).
It was hard, but it was freeing too. And it was my experience with those limitations (and the rhythm of writing every day for a month) that set me thinking about my own StoryADay challenge, years later.
Write 100 words. Exactly 100.
It can be helpful to think of this as an exercise, not a story
Start with an experience of your own. As you whittle your words and ideas down to exactly 100, you will inevitably be creating fiction.
100 words isn’t much. You don’t have room for traditional story structure, or to worry about all those writing rules you’ve been working to absorb. Just write.
If you need a more specific prompt, write about something you did yesterday morning. Give me details, colors, emotion.
Oh, and thanks to everyone who left comments or got in touch about the five-a-week prompts in September. The deal was that someone who commented would win a copy of my Time To Write Workshop. And (drumroll please) the winner is: Sarah Cain!! (I used the random number generator at Random.org — and got ridiculously excited waiting for the winning number to appear! Congrats Sarah. Hope it helps!