How long is a story? Or rather, how short?
This is a question that Create and the h2g2 researchers putting together a variety show podcast1 would like to explore.
In November we challenged h2g2 researchers to write a novel of 50,000 words. Now we are going to ask them to attempt something much harder. Short short stories.
There is already a venerable tradition of these 100-200 word shorts on h2g2, so in keeping with Create’s science fiction theme for January, we have decided to up the ante a little, to challenge both old hands and those new to this kind of writing.
So we want 42 word stories. That’s right, stories of only 42 words. Actually, we will allow a leeway of 5 words plus or minus. But special acclaim will go to those tales which are dead on the word limit.
Along with the 42-themed photographs, this will be a running feature of the podcasts and not limited to the first episode, scheduled to go out later this (new!) year. But only the best stories will be included, so best to get honing those skills now.
To prove it can be done, paulh, one of h2g2’s short short story masters, has provided us with some examples.2
Glasses clinked. Sequins glittered. A Sinatra wannabe crooned as the host led me downstairs to see his latest invention, a time machine.
“It’s just a clock!” I exclaimed.
“I’ll speed up the hands,” he proposed.
“You wanna make time fly? Take exams!”
“You’re voting for Kremmersley?” I exclaimed. “He opposes everything you believe in.”
“He’s our friend,” Mom explained.
“He invites us for turkey dinners, barbecues, even cruises,” Dad added.
“He won’t keep any of his campaign promises,” I said.
“That’s fine with us!”
The Christmas gift-planning session was going well: hedge clippers for Lonny,
yarn for Grandma, princess dolls for little Grace.
“The Parkers in Fairbanks?” my wife said, frowning.
“A solar-powered snowblower,” I suggested.
“Too much snow, too little sunlight,” she objected.
Add the stories to the threads below. We’d like to use this as a workshop as well as a story share, so don’t take it amiss if, as well as praise, suggestions are made for improvement. And don’t be afraid to comment on clever solutions, brilliant wordplay or helpful tweaks in others’ writing.
We will be suggesting themes for the stories to tackle, although all stories are welcome.
For March, you prompt is 'nature'.