Writing flash fiction, nano fiction, short shorts, et cetera can not only be a lot of fun, but also a great way to warm up to a new story. After reading a few of Ruzkin’s 50-word Fiction pieces, I had to give it a shot. Although I wasn’t too sure how strict a person had to be on the 50 word target, I kept myself to using exactly 50 words to keep it interesting for myself, but that is not a rule that you, as a writer, have to follow.
Thomas opened his copy of the Post to the classifieds. Drivers, housekeepers, fry cooks and nurses were all wanted, but not network technicians. He pulled the newsprint over his body and managed to fall asleep on a bench. Thomas needed to stay dry if he wanted to survive the night.
Every night, except for tonight, Leonard Pilot goes to the Boston Bread Company for a whole wheat bagel and iced black coffee. Every night, they give him a hot cup of coffee. Tonight, Leonard reminds himself, he’ll give them a hot coffee.
Leonard doesn’t even know what that means. Yet.
Samantha was nervous about taking her Chicago friends out to dinner with Robbie. Since he had got back from culinary school daily eating had become complicated ordeals.
“But Robbie, nobody cares whether the Cashew Chicken is Springfield style,” she said.
“Ignorance is no reason to ignore the oyster sauce, Sam.”
In the kingdom of Burr lived a menacing ghost. Chuck, as his friends called him, began to worry about the recent Burrian economic downturn. With ghost scoiety dependent upon happy, living humans, Chuck felt it was his duty to help.
Soon, Chuck realized the complexity of being a Monarchy’s accountant.
I found this exercise to be more difficult than I planned. Compressing an entire narrative into such a few words seemed impossible, and only after thinking through my characters and the importance of each word was I able to complete each short.
What I’ve learned, is that there is no reason that this importance and focus shouldn’t be carried into a longer narrative. In fact, one of the 50 word shorts I was writing continued itself well past its 50 word limit. I hope to see it as a fully fleshed out story soon, but it may serve well enough as a lesson in being concise and well paced. It really makes me want to pick up Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the New Millennium.
By the way
As an astronomy buff, I would feel amiss not to mention the Total Lunar Eclipse tonight, be sure to check it out.