“Checked tie. Striped jacket. White cane.”* You can say a lot in 6 words. Or 100, 200 or 300 words. Or 140 characters. Short shorts are a quick read, a perfect companion to a cup of coffee. No detailed backstories or character descriptions, just a story about one particular situation or one single moment, like a photograph. The readers fill in the empty spaces, the unsaid, themselves. They become co-authors.
While easy to read, stories this short are not always easy to write. Despite the limited numbers of words, the story has to be complete. There has to be a movement, something must happen, otherwise it’s not a story, but merely a description. The readers shouldn’t be left wondering “what happens then” when they are done reading.
Maybe over a cup of coffee yourself, you choose and cut out words to create the precise word-pictures that tell the story and nothing but the story. It’s like chiseling a block of marble until all the redundant stone is chipped off and the face of a Roman god emerges. Kind of.
*A 6-word story from the Norwegian book “Du trenger ikke mer enn 6” (which means: You don’t need more than 6).
Short stories are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.
— Neil Gaiman