They say that brevity is the soul of wit. It’s also the soul of a well-written short story, and the Gotham Writers Workshop is posing a really serious writing contest challenge to writers out there.
Specifically: Can you tell a story in 10 words or fewer?
Not kidding. Gotham is inviting writers to tell a complete story in that tiny space – and incidentally, the 10 words includes the story title if you choose to use one.
Like I said: Really serious challenge. It’s based on a perhaps apocryphal story about Ernest Hemingway winning a bet as to whether he could tell a story in 10 words or fewer. Here’s the tale he turned in:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Obviously it can be done.
Flex your creative muscles
This kind of writing exercise is a great challenge for any writer:
- Come up with a compelling idea.
- Distill it to the absolute core of the story.
- Write it in as many words as you have fingers – or fewer, if you’re super-focused.
All three are great exercises for your writing muscles. And best-case scenario, your ultra-short tale will develop into something bigger. Witness this example from last year’s contest:
She sat in the car wondering what other children did.
Wow. That nugget of story could go in so many directions.
Or this one:
He looks like Pittsburgh, I thought. He’s definitely my father.
If you’d like to challenge yourself, I urge you to enter the contest. The winner will receive a 10-week Gotham workshop. It’s free to enter and limited to one entry per person. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EDT Monday, May 20.
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