Sunday, January 17, 2016

Writing Prompt: The Challenge: Write a Mini-Story

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt aims to challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s designed to push your creative boundaries and stretch those artistic wings.

Hemingway's six-word story is proof that writers can pack a lot of tale into a tiny space. Being that succinct forces us to consider every word and what it's doing, which can help us choose stronger words when we're not forced to write tight. The challenge: 

Write a complete story in 300 words or less.

It must show conflict and a resolution of a goal. Beyond that, it's totally up to you.

Share in the comments!


  1. I want to challenge the notion that all stories need a conflict. And so, I am posting the following:

    The Rocker

    If it could talk, the rocker would share stories of babies soothed to sleep in their mother’s arms. It would describe grandfathers nodding off mid conversation. It wouldn’t talk about seventeen trips in moving vans, the six different states it visited, a year spent in storage or the five times it was nearly sold. The rocker took comfort knowing that in over eighty years it had only two owners. It was looking for a third, an opportunity to create another generation of memories.
    Tucked in the corner of a consignment shop, the soft curves of the rocker beckoned to Samantha; a soft glow creating an aura around it. Samantha was looking for a sturdy chair that would last a lifetime. Made of maple and crafted by a master carpenter, the rocker held its form with a straight back and strong joints.

    Samantha slid into the curved seat and closed her eyes. The gentle rocking motion transported her back in time, flooding her with memories of those who had filled this seat before her, surrounding her like a warm blanket.

    As she continued to rock, Samantha was given a peek at her future, rocking her babies to sleep and reading to her grandchildren, her soulmate at her side.

    Samantha opened her eyes to see a face from her future standing before her. Kevin asked, “Are you interested in buying the rocker? Others have tried it out but it didn’t light up till you walked in. We’ve been waiting for you.”

    1. Want to say that you have interesting prose, though maybe a little too purple for my tastes, but you pull it off well, and you do a good job at slice of life scenes.

      I have to agree with Lori though. The story never really caught me, and I never really saw a reason to care about why she was buying the chair, and never really connected to the character.

      There wasn't really much of a "story" here, just a slice of life scene of an every day person in an every day situation. Nothing wrong with that, but a slice of life scene wasn't really the point of this post.

  2. Mary Sue; This is a nice story, but I think conflict is necessary, if only in a small dose, such as: Does she have to immediately pick that chair, or could she debate between others with a reason for that choice?

  3. Conflict is necessary but it doesn't have to be shoot'um ups or obviously dramatic. Read Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. The movie is good too. But the drama here is subtle and most often internal. This is a great love story.
    By the way, the real reason conflict is needed is that the reader or viewer expects it. If you buy a donut, you expect sugar. Same thing.

  4. I realized I didn't write a story like Janice asked. So here is my shot at one. It is called Trust.
    The body had flies on it. Jimmy recognized her from the denim coveralls and pink tee shirt she wore. It was Maureen, his little sister.
    He was glad Rob had come with him.
    The adults had been looking for Maureen for days, but they didn't know she liked to spend warm, sunny afternoons in this dry river bed.
    She'd wile away hours under the big oak playing in a make believe world. Once, she'd told him that magic lived here. Maybe the wrong kind of magic, he thought.
    Jimmy looked closer at Maureen's body. The coveralls were cut open and her tummy covered in blood. Her face was...ruined. He should tell his mother, but he suspected she already knew. He'd seen the stains on her dress.
    Rob stood beside him, his hand over his eyes, but Jimmy knew he was peeking around them.
    “Who did this?” Rob asked.
    “I don't know.”
    Jimmy squatted close to Maureen. He touched her blonde curls. Her arms were crossed at the wrists, like someone had held them above her head.
    “Aren't you scared?” Rob asked.
    “I don't know.”
    “Did you like her?”
    Jimmy paused to think about the question. She was only a year younger than he, and they had shared secrets and fears with each other. “Yeah, I did.”
    “What are you going to do? Are you going to tell your dad?”
    “No, not him.”
    Jimmy didn't know. His father was the town constable and close friends with all the important people, the people who should be helpful.
    “Maybe your dad?' Rob's father was a doctor.
    Rob shook his head. “I don't think so. He would just blame us.”
    Jimmy knew Rob was right. “Then who?”
    Rob didn't say anything.
    Jimmy waved away a fly. “Come on. We should go.”

  5. The beginning is not the end.

  6. The beginning is not the end.

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  9. Smallface leapt for the lower branches as the troop closed in around him. Bigman's jaws snapped shut just inches from his foot, but the huge ape didn't follow him into the tree. The others stopped whooping to watch, as Bigman sat back and stared into Smallface's eyes.

    Smallface whimpered. It would be easy for Bigman to jump up and catch him, but instead he stayed on the ground. Rising up on two legs, Bigman began to march around the tree. The others rose too, and soon they were all circling the trunk, some staggering, but all balanced on their back legs alone.

    Bigman gestured. Smallface could still choose to join them. The open grassland was waiting.

    It was madness. There were tigers in the grass. The trees were safe.

    Smallface shrieked, and scampered a branch or two higher.

    Bigman snorted and scooped up a stone, which he hurled at Smallface. All the apes howled and grabbed at stones, and Smallface climbed for his life. Pain flared in his shoulder as a stone hit, then another. Crying now, he fled into the highest branches.

    Eventually, the laughter stopped. Smallface could just see Bigman through the leaves. The huge ape shook his head sadly and then turned away to lead his pack out onto the open plain.

    Smallface watched them go.

    A cold breeze ruffled the leaves around him. There was silence. Smallface huddled close to the trunk, trying to be small and unseen.

    There were tigers in the grass, but maybe there were worse things than tigers.

    Smallface took a deep breath and climbed down to the ground. He rose up onto two legs and tottered forward towards the grass. Leaving the trees behind, he walked out into the wide open land and towards the rising sun.

    1. Great stuff. I can almost hear Marlin Perkins doing the intro :)

    2. Thanks Ikmar (though I had to look up Marlin Perkins as I'm from the UK. David Attenborough's our man over here!)