Shorter Stories

Short, Short Stories

Anyone who knows me knows I am a bit verbose. Really, why use two or three words when fourteen or fifteen will do? Joking aside, I have always written stories with tons of descriptions and lots of words. Flash Fiction has pared me down some but still leaves me leeway. I can add descriptions and hint at ideas all the while staying within the Flash Fiction limit. Then, along comes the challenge from our own Cam to write short flash fiction. Three hundred words or less! Yes, less. How much can I cut down on words? I decided to take the challenge and see.

Knowing the limits of HP, rather the length a hub should be, it would be difficult to just write one three hundred word story because it wouldn't make it. It would be considered sub-standard and wouldn't be posted. To avoid that problem, an introduction, such as this one, and a closing, which will come at the end, help to add the necessary word count.

In the middle will be three short, short stories. I can only hope they will make as much sense to you as they did to me and you will enjoy my little venture into short short stories.

Alone

He watched her with longing in his eyes and despair in his heart. She walks out the door without even looking back. Why must she leave him home alone to go do whatever it is she feels she needs to do? He wants to be with her. Day after day he sits watching and wondering, always alone. Why must she leave him?

He loves the sound of her voice and the touch of her skin. Her strokes illicit a warmth he can only feel when she touches him. Without her touch he is nothing. He knows she cares, but even when he takes his leash in his mouth, she leaves him, alone.

Running Water

The water is running. Always running, rushing to it's destination. The soothing sounds of splashing water hitting rocks along it's journey are restful. Calm seems to pervade your body with the running of the water.

Water running can be a trial however, when you're trying to sleep. Putting the pillow over your head does no good at all. You can still hear the water, even through the pillow. It's not that he doesn't like running water. It can really be beautiful, but when its coming from the toilet he knows he has to get up and fix it.

Computer Call

That darn thing sits there day after day. The screen is looking right at you. You know it's calling you. The little green lights seem to have your name written all over them. What about the keyboard? Doesn't that look lonely too?

How many hours have you spent on that black box? Searching, writing, looking, all leading you to places or people unknown. The joy of it stays with you long after you've left it.

Then you turn it off and walk away, but when you look back it's staring at you. It's daring you to try to stay away and ignore it. It owns you. You've created this technological monster sitting at your desk and you know the only way to appease it is to turn it on.

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Essentials for a Short Story

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one or two things—reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading character, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they’re made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Short, Short Stories

So there you have it, my three short, short stories. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know they didn't take a lot of your time.

There are millions of short stories out there. There are even short story competitions. Why not write a short story yourself if you haven't yet? Granted the "short, short" story is a real challenge but anything that improves our writing is a challenge worth taking.

A short story is self contained so everything you need is right there in your story. According to Wikipedia there is no set length so it can be almost any length you want. Obviously though to be a short story you should be able to read it in one sitting. Something we are very familiar with here at Hub Pages.

Remember you are writing a story. A story about characters and places. Descriptions are essential. Good examples are any of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories in case you are unsure, or many nursery rhymes and fables fit the bill as well. Your imagination is the only limit you face. You can disguise people you know as characters or make up totally original characters. I don't doubt you already know this from any books you've read, but it's a reminder a short story is the same as book only lots shorter.

That brings us back to short, short stories. The same basic elements hold true but with as few words as possible to make your story readable and interesting. You are leaving much up to the imagination of your reader so it's up to you to take him there.

Happy Writing, and be sure to check out Cam's page to find more short, short stories!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved - All photos are property of Tillsontitan unless otherwise noted, and may not be used without permission.

Have you ever written a short, short story?

  • Yes and it was fun.
  • No.
  • No, but I might try it now.
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31 comments

DJ Anderson 20 months ago

Great work on the short, short stories.

I knew the first one was a dog waiting for his master's return.

Nothing quite as uplifting as those first few minutes when we

return to the adoration and excitement of our dog. We start

anew with each reunion.

Enjoyed your write.

DJ.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

Well done, Mary. This is so hard to do. I wish I had the time to try it, but the long, long, long stories are my calling and I must answer. Still, this is a great writing exercise.


Melissa Orourke profile image

Melissa Orourke 20 months ago from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras

I used to write more short stories, perhaps I should again!

There is one long story that I am slowly working on. Someday, it will be complete and hopefully published!

I always enjoy reading what you write! Thank you!


annart profile image

annart 20 months ago from SW England

Hi Mary! I love the doggy story and the other two are also great. You've done well with your response to Chris' challenge.

Number 7 on the 8 essentials made me laugh; how true!

Great hub with your super stories as well as lots of information and sensible advice.

Ann


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 20 months ago from Central Florida

I loved your stories, Mary. Alone got an "awww" out of me. That's probably exactly what dogs think when their parents go off to work. Running Water got a chuckle out of me. I wasn't expecting the ending! Computer Call - well, when I decide to shut it off I'm not tempted to turn it back on because I've been on it all day and need to give my eyes a break.

I find it very difficult to write short, short stories. I've written a couple and that's about all the effort I'll put into. I discovered it's just not my cup of tea.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Thank you DJ. You know where my heart is, that's why you knew it was a dog! Thanks for stopping by.

Bill I appreciate your comment. It was certainly something that required a lot of thought. I'm still working on my novel but couldn't resist the challenge. (I need all the practice I can get!)

Can't wait to read your stories Melissa, I hope you share them with us soon. Thank you for reading.

Ann, it was certainly a challenge trying to stretch those three short, short stories out to fill up a hub! I'm glad you thought I did it with a modicum of taste at least. Number 7 was certainly worth a chuckle!

Sha, I don't think I'll be doing it again any time soon but couldn't resist the challenge. They were kind of fun to write. I'm sure that's what our dogs think when we leave them!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 20 months ago from Dallas, Texas

You've ventured into new territory here, Mary. I like it. And your tips from Kurt Vonnegut are all good to know things. The statement about using the reader's time wisely is important to keep in mind.

Of your three stories, I loved each in it's own right, but the one "Alone" made me smile as I face this every time I leave. Oh, the guilt they can impart with just their eyes!


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 20 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very interesting stories, especially the 'Alone'. Good response to the challenge by Annart.


manatita44 20 months ago

Three nice pieces. I prefer the longer flash fiction, say about 800 to 900 words. Then it's much easier, for me to give them meaning. Still, I salute you! Much love.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I thoroughly enjoyed each of the stories. Thank you for sharing them with us.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 20 months ago

This was quite interesting Mary it is useful to. I write the full length short stories all of the time. Maybe I will try this. I voted this up, shared and pinned it.

Kevin


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Peg, I've never done this before and I am doubtful I will again but I like to take challenges. I know what you mean about the dog's soulful eyes when you're leaving. Glad you enjoyed the tips.

Thank you Venkatachari, glad you enjoyed.

Manatita, it is difficult to try to write without the descriptions we are used to giving.

Thank you Eric.

Kevin, give it a try. It is certainly interesting. Thanks so much for the vote and shares!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 20 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Mary. Great tips from Vonnegut. Consise short stories from you. What more couold we ask for. It is my understanding that Hemingway is credited it with, "For sale, baby shoes, unused." As his winning contribution to this genre.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 20 months ago from Taos, NM

This is quite an interesting and creative challenge. I love all three of your stories. I I've the twists at the end of the first two. You really did a great job on these.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 20 months ago from southern USA

Wow, Mary, you've done a phenomenal job here with these short, short stories! All are clever as can be and I thoroughly enjoyed reading each one. You have mastered the short, shorts.

I am like you, in that I normally tend to write on and on LOL, but these great short shorts, are wonderful examples of how to tell great stories using less words.

Your added tips here are really useful too.

Up and across tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

Superb!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 20 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

Very well done, Mary. I love the "Alone" story. I can really envision the precious pet sitting there with his leash and longing for attention.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida

Mary I definitely think that it takes real skill to write a story in such a concise manner. These three were superb. They were really stories. I have read some of these that just did not seem to fit the story model. But these do.

I am impressed...

Voted up++++ shared and pinned to awesome HubPages tweeted and g+

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I love your stories, Mary! They are interesting, enjoyable and skilfully written. Thanks for sharing them.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 20 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

He stared at the screen and snorted. Short flash fiction? Remembering how hard it had been to get his flash fiction story down to 1000 words, he felt his fingernails digging into his palm. "How dare they?" he snarled to himself. Who did this new Council of Writers think they were? Nobody could tell him what to write, nobody! He'd show them. Quickly, he dashed off a 2500 word tome, and not allowing himself to think about the consequences, hit the Send key. He was still giggling to himself in triumph when the men in white coats came for him.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

These were all spot on Mary, and things we can all relate to. Being a dog owner I knew what the first one was. I love the "Computer Call" I go through that everyday as well., and who can sleep when there's the sound of running water?...not me. Very good response to Cam's challenge. Voted up.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Mike, leave it to Hemingway to cut the short, short story down to size! You know, I think I read that but didn't connect it here. Have a good one Mike.

Thanks Suzette. It was certainly a challenge for me.

Faith you are always so gracious! Thank you for the compliments and the shares. Blessings to you dear friend and wishes for a happy day.

Phyllis, thank you. Seems "Alone" is the favorite.

Patricia, thank you so much. I wasn't sure my stories were good enough but you've certainly made me feel at ease about them. Thank you so much for all the votes and shares. Blessings to you.

Ron your story was hysterical! LOVED it. You certainly need to write more.

John, I think anyone with a dog knows that look. Glad you enjoyed my little attempts. Have a great day.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 20 months ago from California

Well done Mary! Flash fiction is difficult to do--I liked Vonnegut's suggestion--be a sadist!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 20 months ago from England

lol! love the toilet one! yes been there done that! and the first one too, loved them! well done mary!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Audrey this is the shortest flash fiction I've ever written. I couldn't resist Vonnegut's suggestions.

Thanks Nell. Guess we have the same problems on both sides of the pond ;)


diogenes profile image

diogenes 20 months ago from UK and Mexico

Hi Mary: Good effort, more like outlines than short stories except for the funny hooks in the first two. They would also easily turn into verse.

Real short story writing is a huge art and rarely conquered satisfactorily. I don't like them except the real winners like those done by Steinbeck and Hemingway, etc. It's like eating a delicious horse's doo doo or a soup and not having the main meal.

But that's just me...

Bob


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Bob, its certainly not something I would want to try on a full time basis. It would probably drive me crazier than I already am!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 20 months ago from UK and Mexico

They are a bit like poetry perhaps, immensely satisfying to create but not very marketable, not that money motivates me on here.

Bob goodnight Mary!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 20 months ago from Stillwater, OK

These are all very enjoyable. Thanks for the entertainment in a modicum of time.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Bob, sorry I didn't respond to your comment....I thought I did"....must be my age. I'm not sure I would say they are satisfying to create but they certainly are different.

Deb, sometimes short and sweet wins the race.


EsJam profile image

EsJam 18 months ago from Southern California

Delightful reads, your stories! I have only written 3 flash fiction. They were published in a local magazine where I used to live. It's challenging, but fun.

I also enjoyed the Kurt Vonnegut wee words of wisdom!

I will be foooollowing you! Happy Hubbing! essie


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 18 months ago from New York Author

How nice to meet you EsJam. Congrats on having your stories published, local magazine or not, published is published! Glad to be friends here.

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