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Writing 101, Day Five: Be Brief

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

None of us will ever know the whole story in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards that each seem perfect.

— From 100 Word Story‘s About page

Brevity is the goal of this task, although “brief” can mean five words or five-hundred words. You might write a fifty-word story, as writer Vincent Mars publishes on his blog, Boy in the Hat. Or you might tell your tale in precisely one-hundred words, like the folks at 100 Word Story — an approach that forces you to question every word.

For writers who tend to write more, a longer word count may be considered concise, too. At Brevity, writers publish nonfiction of seven-hundred-fifty words or less: there is space to develop a piece, yet a focus on succinctness.

For inspiration, browse two fifty-word stories — on the silence between a husband and wife, or a story on time and a missed connection — or these one-hundred words by H. Edwards to see how others write clever concise tales.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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    1. they said it would happen later…they don’t want us getting completely attached to that one post, they probably have their reasons

      1. Writing is a process; it’s also not always an organized one. We might work on an idea one day, and then work on something else the next. Posts that might require more thought take time to “simmer” — it’s great to let pieces/bigger ideas sit, like your “serial killer” series.

      1. You just made my day… sorry, a night actually :) where is the link to your blog on your website, by the way ?:) I’ll go have a look at your post…

      2. Thanks, Swav. First, I thought I did it right, then I thought I did it wrong. Now, I know that it’s really neither right nor wrong. Hey, maybe I’m ahead of the game! Ha!

    1. As promised yesterday, we’ll definitely return to your serial post later on this month. Of course, you can work on any post you feel like in the meantime, switch back and forth between multiple posts, or whatever combination works for you and your schedule.

      1. Thanks for clearing that up! I have no problem with a little variety! At least I have more time to improve or expand on my ideas.

  1. oh no another dower one to deal with, well i think lol, was hoping for something uplifting to write about, :( and its sunny outside i think I will go for a walk haha

    1. It’s all in the interpretation. :)

      It affects you deeply,

      This could mean anything — you could be happy, sad, angry or feel any other strong emotion.

  2. I don’t know why people think this one is a downer. It can be an uplifting letter that affects you. Just because it says your deeply affected doesn’t mean it has to be in a bad way. :3

      1. And It’s okay gtylermills, sometimes you have to write the way you need to write. Why some of mine end up in poems. Poems=win, Prose=fail. Unless it’s short prose like today. XD

    1. I’m kind of disappointed in the amount of joking going on about this assignment. I’m having a difficult time because I LOVE to write. It seems almost impossible, but I’m going to try. I just wanted to add that yours was nicely done, and I appreciate that you actually took it seriously.

      1. Thanks. Appreciate that. Wanted to convey a bit of mystery here too; no-one actually knows what the letter said, just that I probably shouldn’t have….!

    1. You can approach it in different ways: write what the letter said, tell the story from an outsider/stranger’s POV watching it happen, imagine the original story within the letter, whatever… These prompts are springboards to get you inspired and write.

  3. I thought the serial killer thing was going to be “in a row”, but I’m kinda glad it’s not :) I started turning over some big ideas in my post, so I’m glad I have time to let it simmer.

    1. I’m glad I have time to let it simmer.

      Exactly — that’s what the writing process is all about. For many, writing isn’t “automatic” — ideas take time to ripen, especially for something like a three-part series that you’ll ponder over a period of time.

      1. Yep! Since my blog post involves looking back at some VERY old writing habits/pieces, I’m glad I have time to go through my old work and really write something meaningful instead of pressured/forced.

  4. I had some inspiration of my own to start with, first I thought I would write a “non -writing101 ” blogspot to start with. In my post I ask Christian who believes that Sweden should have a better army to turn to the Bible and treead on of the letters there. My bpost is in Finnish. Only 29 words.

  5. This is like Flash Fiction! The challenge is to write a story in few words only… How to say more while saying less would be really hard. This is a very good challenge WP team!

    1. Hmm — the comment thread is still open on day 4’s post (Serial Killer) — not sure what’s amiss there. Have you been able to access the Commons previously? I just tried to send you an invite but I’m not sure if it sent, or if you already were invited.