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.
- 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.
- The bloodied cat lounged in the doghouse eating the dog’s bone–its thigh bone.*
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The storm blew itself out. Jimmy rushed outside to check for damage. He found that his wife had indeed ripped him a new one.
- 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?
* 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.”