When I started writing flash fiction last year I was drawn to the idea of writing 100 word stories. It seemed like a massive challenge considering how few words 100 can actually be. But this also seemed like a fun way to push myself to tell a story or create an experience with limited words.
The restriction of using only 100 words can be a playful experience in trying to find the perfect word for everything. Editing also takes on a whole new meaning when every word must carry weight in the story. You quickly realize what can go and what doesn’t need to be said – what can simply rest in the spaces between words and sentences.
100 Word Story provides a photo prompt every month on their website, asking writers to submit a story for review as the “best” for that month. In addition, they take calls for submissions unrelated to the photo prompt. The only restriction – the story must be 100 words exactly.
Even if you have no plans on writing a 100 word story, I still recommend reading the stories posted on their website. They are quick reads but provide an amazing variety of talent, demonstrating how much can be said with a restricted range of words.
In addition, I highly recommend checking out their book, “Nothing Short of 100: Selected tales from 100 Word Story,” which is a collection of the best stories submitted in their first 6 years.
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I’ve read this book multiple times, marking the stories I love and plan to study further. I hope to learn from these micro-fiction masters so I can become a better writer as well. If nothing else, it is a great read that can move and entertain you.
If you are up for a challenge, consider trying your hand at writing a 100 word story.
- Choose a topic. Either use the photo prompt for the month on the 100 Word Story website, or use your own prompt. Some suggestions for prompts: a color, number, day of the week, month, holiday, plant or flower, family member, place, personality trait, food, etc.
- Brainstorm. Sometimes I find that brainstorming words related to the topic I’ve chosen can stir up ideas. You can do this as just a list of words or a mind map exercise.
- Free write. Write a scene that gets across your emotions and thoughts on the topic. Don’t worry about the word limit at this time – just write. Consider how you can relate the words you brainstormed, create a scene, use a metaphor, or “draw” an image for the reader. Be creative and experimental! There is room for a million different stories out there, don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself in terms of how you tell YOUR story. ⭐For an even greater challenge, don’t use the topic word you chose in your writing.
- Review and edit. Once you have plenty of material to work from, or the ideas slow to a screeching halt, read back over what you have written. Consider how you might rearrange the elements, rewrite them, use stronger words, and get rid of unnecessary words. The piece will start to come together. (I use ProWritingAid to improve my writing and I highly recommend it!)
- Read aloud. Read your story aloud, to your plants, your pets, your family members, the wall. This will help you get the tone of what you are writing and identify errors in flow or grammar you might have missed when simply reading.
- Repeat write/review/read. Repeat these steps until you get a 100 word story that you like, or better yet – love💓 . It might take some time but it is all about the journey after all. 😉
- Set it free. Release your writing into the world. Consider getting feedback on your story in a writing group, from peers, or submit it to a publisher for flash fiction, such as 100 Word Story. Or simply put it away and consider this a great exercise in being brief.
- Celebrate. Take a minute to reflect on what you thought about the experience. Did you like being restricted to 100 words, the topic you chose? Are you happy with your piece? Why or why not? Does it resonate with you on an emotional level? Learn from what you did here. But, more importantly, be proud of your work!!! 🙌🍾🥂
If you tried this exercise, or have other thoughts on the 100 word story form, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to post a reply below and share your thoughts.