Power Shorts: The Shortest Stories

lady bug

Lately I’ve shifted focus from writing fiction to creating stories. It’s an important distinction. As I study aspects of story, I find it helpful to try to write complete short stories as short as possible. They should have a beginning, middle, and end, showing some change in a character due to an apparent or implied conflict.

  1. A tree fell in the forest only to find that no one was around to hear it, so it stood back up, a little embarrassed, and resolved to show more patience next time.
  2. The bloodied cat lounged in the doghouse eating the dog’s bone–its thigh bone.*
  3. On June 5, 1944, in a small town on Long Island, New York, little Joey asked his mother when he would become a man. His mother said not until his father died. The next day, Joey became a man.
  4. At noon on the savannah, a hungry hippo waded into the water but refused to eat without his shadow. A minute later he ate his fill and so did his skinny companion.
  5. The crazy butcher bled on the park bench. He cursed himself for failing to notice the bottle was not a twist-off. He smashed the bottle in the trash bin and returned to the fair.
  6. A man and his wife entered a dingy brothel. The wife told Madame what they wanted. Madame named the price. The woman and her husband left as new owners of a thriving brothel.
  7. I died one night and stood at the gates of paradise. The chain and padlock were rusted and the place was desolate as far as my eyes could see. A faded foreclosure notice flapped in the breeze. Saint Peter sat in the dirt shaking a tin cup. He said everyone had gone to the other place. On my way I flipped a coin into his cup. “Sucker,” he muttered under his breath. A fitting epitaph, I had to admit.
  8. The storm blew itself out. Jimmy rushed outside to check for damage. He found that his wife had indeed ripped him a new one.
  9. Aesop had writer’s block. He couldn’t think of a creature to represent hypocrisy. He began writing about himself, and the words flowed smoothly thereafter.

See the whole collection at Power Shorts Daily: The Shortest Stories.

Please leave me a comment about which one you like the best. What kind of power shorts can you come up with?Β 

* Variation on a comment by John Le Carre: “‘The cat sat on the mat,’ is not the beginning of a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.”

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187 comments

      1. Oh hey….I noodled a bit more with it. πŸ™‚ Not sure if better or more clear though…

        With a secret smile, the woman placed a bouquet of daisies next to the grave marker. She traced her fingers over the name engraved on the marker and reveled in the thought of her new luxury condo with its closet full of designer clothes. She’d always liked her identical twin’s name better anyhow.

  1. I enjoyed the one about Joey the most. Mainly because we don’t know how the father was killed – by Joey himself or by some outside circumstance. Also, becoming a man seems to be a ritual in every culture. Becoming a woman is far less spoken of – it requires acquiring the confidence to hold one’s head high and be nurturing no matter what the cost.

  2. You know me, Rick. I love flash fiction, so I can really appreciate your wonderful stories in a sentence! Personally, I’m working on style, so I’m trying to write mundane sentences first, then try to jazz them up a bit.

    Keep going….it’s a great exercise!
    Best,
    The Other Mallery

  3. I thought each of your stories had a life of their own, so it was hard to pick. Here is a story I tried to do in one sentence.
    “The Thomas’ unattended bonfire burned furiously out of control late Saturday night at their backyard barbeque destroying three backyards and forcing forty-five people into the streets.

  4. Rick, First off, thank you for “liking my post.” Next, I enjoyed “browsing” through the “windows of words” that you have written. The reason I call them that is because they make you laugh & “see” the other side of things. Enjoyed.

  5. I died one night and stood at the gates of paradise. The chain and padlock were rusted and the place was desolate as far as my eyes could see. A faded foreclosure notice flapped in the breeze. Saint Peter sat in the dirt shaking a tin cup. He said everyone had gone to the other place. On my way I flipped a coin into his cup. β€œSucker,” he muttered under his breath. A fitting epitaph, I had to admit.

    This one raised a smile, thanks,

    Jim

  6. Gosh they are all good and as a verbose writer, it really challenges me to think about words and how you can cut them down to the bare minimum and still tell a really interesting story. Thanks so much. Think I like the hippo and tree story the best, but they are all good.

  7. I like the last one best! Thanks for visiting my page. As a newbie, any feedback is gratefully accepted. Unless it isnt’. LOL

  8. Rick, Oh Rick. You liked my post and here I am, so happy to read your short and shorter stories. Less is better in acting and writing. Words, words, words. Can’t write a novel w/o them. Choose them well for they are precious.

    I enjoyed the tree and went UP from there. D Day did it for Joey.

    My short short: Claire woke up one morning. Her husband didn’t.

  9. And because reading great writing always inspires me, here’s my own:

    She left a comment saying she liked the 1st, 3rd and fifth. That left him wondering if she was a math junkie? Or only liked odds and ends? Or was she being facetious? The one thing he knew for sure though, was that the key for the number 5 was missing on her keyboard.

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    1. Hahahaha, very nice! πŸ™‚ I like the odds and ends. At first thought it would be a reference to gambling. Maybe horse racing. And the missing fifth capped it all nicely.

  10. Rick thank you so much for your visit and following my blog!

    That is interesting about Aesop’s writer’s block. Funny how sometimes we can’t push the push by being steady, we just have to find another way to, like for Aesop’s case, let it flow.

    : )

  11. Curiousity brought me. What kind of person would like my poem? Planned a hit and run, but got hooked on your shorts. How exciting! Think I’ll stay a while.

  12. Number 9 is my favorite. It’s all too easy to say we want to love our neighbor as our self…and all too hard to do it!

  13. It’s a tie between joey and the brothel. They appeal to my sense of the macabre. Great shorts. I usually write long, so I admire a person who can tell it in a sentence or two. Amazing!

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