1. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    The challenges of the REALLY SHORT short story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Birmingham, Mar 17, 2013.

    Recently I had the opportunity to enter a couple of short story contests. The limitations are quite interesting. First I saw one that limits you to 5,000 words. Then a contest that limits you to 2,500 words, which, of course, meant I'd have to do something a little different than in the first one. Now I see one that's all about writing 1,200 words.

    So, I wonder, what other limitations have you bumped into in the past? What allowable amount truly challenged you? Yes, I know that any length of story can be done. I know all about the 6-word story about the baby shoes, and I know that some people here have tried to create even shorter stories. But you know what I'm talking about when I say "short stories". I mean the traditional short story, the one that has more than 10 words in it. You know exactly what I mean.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I tried entering a short-short story contest but missed the deadline. The limit was 3,000 words. I had no
    idea how short that was until I started my story. The end result is approx five pages and for me this was
    hard! I think I ended up with eight. I had to go over the piece dozens of times, dozens or dozens, clipping whole
    sections to bring it down. For me it was a great editing experience because I couldn't clip certain things because
    the story would make no sense, so some of the frivolous but beautiful lines got the axe.
    Everything was tightened. In the end I realized that cutting had brought out more beauty than leaving all
    that junk in, kind of like pruning wisteria - Let it get too wild and the bloom gets lost in the foilage.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    A woman in a writing group I'm in brought in a piece for critique that she wanted to enter in a short story contest. The word limit: 100 words. That was tough.

    Overall, I think 3000 is a pretty good word count -- many of the shorts I've written (not that I'm an expert or that I can say they were good, necessarily) have ended up close to that length. I've seen contests for 500 or 1000 words, and anything shorter than 2000 I have a tough time doing.
     
  4. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've found writing 100 word stories a really useful exercise - you learn a lot about keeping your writing tight and having things implied by actions rather than just said. I think it's improved the longer stories I do a lot.

    I'm considering trying some at 75 words and some at 50, to see how short I can get and still have it being, to my mind, a proper story - that is, one with a beginning that grabs, a middle that keeps and an end that lingers.
     

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