“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

WordPress Daily Prompts: Particular

3 thoughts on “Short-short stories: Catch the moment

  1. A short story, indeed, is a sketch, rather than an oil painting. However that sketch owes as much to the precision of the architect, as it does to a Picasso etching. If either the precision or the flare is absent, it will flounder.

    I agree particularly with your comments re: movement. Too many people confuse a descriptive backstory or scene setting with a short story. They are beginnings, a short story has a beginning. Nicely put.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comments. I like what you say about the importance of precision. Because with a limited number of words, a lot has to be implied. Short stories give you as a writer both freedom (from long descriptions) and restrictions.


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