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Writing Challenge: One-Sentence Stories

Updated on October 8, 2012

Can you tell a story in one sentence?

With just one sentence, can you tell a story? The one-sentence story is a kind of prose poetry, giving enough detail to let the imagination do the rest.


Here are a few.


She said she was on the lawn screaming because the red light was too long and the shelter too far.


When she cleaned the garage she found: a stack of newspapers with two different presidents; 17 dead mice in various states of decomposition; a pair of mildewy ice skates, size 13, filled with lint, dog kibble and bird seed; 2 unweathered bluebird houses; Amorall wipes, unopened; 3 strings of Christmas lights with 8 bulbs missing; a bag of peat with flower bulbs gone soft; 73 empty beer bottles, some with mold; an antique toboggan, no rope; a flat basketball; 4 snow shovels, one that could be used; 2 bags of concrete mix; a broken lawn chair; 7 cinderblocks; a handmade dollhouse that the mice had destroyed; a 10-gallon galvanized trash can, empty; one cross-country ski pole without a basket; a grocery store bag half-filled with the cotton from vitamin bottles; a worn and faded dog collar with a tag that says “Jake”; a sundial with an angel; 27 flower pots, some plastic, some terra cotta, 4 decorative; hardware for a swingset; a box of doorknobs; 3 rolls of orange land surveying tape; a broken rake; an empty gas can; and 2 garage door openers, never installed.


Head pounding and sour taste in her mouth, she stumbled to the door and realized her shirt was inside out.


She tried to save the family with garlic bread, but, to her dismay, it burned.


Alongside the Adirondack trail they found a mound with a crumbling leather lace up boot, part of a porcelain doll head and some wire.


Lacing her K360’s, she thought, if you can’t say it with your feet, it must not be true.


The night the power failed, she photographed Times Square in the dark and thought she’d have a historic photo.


A six-year old who is bound from ribs to toes in plaster can’t run away.


The vultures led her to the bodies of two huge rat snakes which had become snared in plastic fencing from which the unfortunate reptiles could move forward but were kept from moving back by their scaly skin, whereupon sorrow over the useless demise of such large animals compelled her to free the last living snake from its plastic prison laboriously with a pair of nail scissors, all the while feeling like she could tinkle a little.


People told them that two girls could not possibly manage backpacking in the mountains for five days alone, but they knew better and, with the surety of rebellion, filled their ample packs with fresh fruit, potatoes and a canned ham, leaving enough room to strap on their old cotton sleeping bags, sure that they had a better plan having previously passed up the dehydrated peas in the camping store.


When she is stressed, she reads signs many backwards, minding the timil deeps on the way to stunod niknud, where the eeffoc is hot and goes well with a legab.


The little girl reached into her pocket as the basket was passed on Easter Sunday and pulled out a large chocolate egg which she dropped into the pile of dollars, explaining it was for Baby Jesus.


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    • profile image

      Stitches 

      3 years ago

      Ah yes, nicely put, evyonree.

    • mebeth profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi, all,

      Thanks so much for your feedback and support, (and apologies for the slow response -- I was away)! I loved the entries, too! I think the trick is to paint a word picture that has enough detail to tell a story.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting. It is really great to read a story in a very short form.

      Thanks for sharing. :-)

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 

      6 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Life was just a blur to Tony, never more so than after a walk with his mother.

    • profile image

      Beth Beardall 

      6 years ago

      Bleary eyed and feeling fragmented she resolved to push through til dawn only to wake up in a hospital bed several days later.

    • Chris Neal profile image

      Chris Neal 

      6 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Voted up and useful. Inspired me to write my own hub about it!

    • Story Page profile image

      Story Page 

      6 years ago from England, the UK

      A story in one sentence is difficult to craft. When I have tried this in the past; I have found that for me just leaving out the punctuation does not work. I sometimes set myself a word count to inspire a more succinct wring style.

      Bit early in the day here all I can think of is this one -

      She named the child Aardvark because she wanted him to always be first on the list.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      6 years ago from Western Australia

      Love your artistic excercise, you are very good at it, it is the hardest thing to do, to say so much by so little:) B

    • ReneeDC1979 profile image

      Renee' D. Campbell 

      6 years ago from Gaithersburg, Maryland

      I like this - how does this one fare:

      I finally finished writing my play hoping a friend would write all of the music, but as unprepared as they are, I got frustrated with their lack of commitment and fired him.

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 

      6 years ago

      These are more than mere sentences. True poetry and prose put together. Thanks so much. I voted up and awesome. Thanks for the terrific article

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      What fun and a great challenge for anyone who claims to love language. This is a really cool hub.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Forget sudden fiction--this fiction is instant! Enjoyed it, shared it. Will have to try it. --Jill

    • mebeth profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks, Amanda! ... Now I want to know the rest of story! :)

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      6 years ago from UK

      "Careless of the damage being done to her carefully constructed beehive hair-do, Martha squeezed her ample form still further into the crevice in the rock-face, and reached out her warm hand to the shivering child cowering inside the cave."

      Nice idea. So much can be expressed in a single sentence!

    • mebeth profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you!

    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 

      6 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      What fun would life be without interesting challenges? ;=) Neat hub :=)

    • mebeth profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      You're very welcome!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      6 years ago from United States

      Thank you for this interesting idea.,mebeth.

    • mebeth profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you! :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting....and useful....writing exercise! Well done!

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