What is a Postcard Story and How Do I Write One?
Postcard stories are, simply put, stories that you have only about 250 words to tell. It seems that these extremely short works of both fiction and non-fiction started mainly as a writing exercise. I, personally, was only introduced to them about 3 weeks ago when I decided to enter The Writers’ Union of Canada Postcard Story Competition. In my research I’ve found that far from being just a skill building technique (though they’re great for that as well) they have become a fairly popular new genre. These ultra-condensed, more difficult than I originally realized, stories have inspired literary contests and are accepted by many literary journals.
Though the only real rule is that the story must be 250 words or fewer, I don’t think it counts as a real work of fiction unless you’ve filled a few other requirements too. Ideally your postcard story should have a plot, a beginning, middle and end, a climax, some action and a significant change in the main character. And of course over-hyphenating would be considered cheating. Now, perhaps you are beginning to see the real challenge. 250 words, not so hard. A meaningful story in 250 words, somewhat harder.
Of course, writing a meaningful story in 250 words is a great writing exercise. Almost every “how to” article about writing will tell you that conciseness is key. Cut out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can, use dynamic verbs and nouns instead. That’s great advice, and becomes almost a necessity when you’re confined to such extreme brevity.
Giving the postcard story’s famous brevity all it’s due I will keep this hub relatively short as well. After all how much is there to say about a story of only 250 words? Try it and find out. You may be shocked how gratifying it is to write something beautiful, and so beautifully short.
Of course even that has been bested. Who can forget Hemingway’s famous six word story, often considered his best work.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
- Postcard Shorts: Stories that fit on a postcard
A website dedicated to postcard stories.
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