Fiction Stories in 50 Words: Can You Do It?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Do you think you can write a fiction story in 50 Words? I'm talking, exactly 50 words. No more, no less.  That's less than a paragraph.

I think it can be done.

50 Word Stories are examples of extreme flash fiction — a genre known for completely brevity.  There is a popular writing site which publishes these pieces, so go check it out!  They recently published one of my own 50 Word Stories which you can find here.

So how does this work?

Go back to the basics.  You need 1) Exposition 2) Climax 3) Resolution.  You need a landscape and some sort of characterization.  Make sure you focus on one thing — you can't try to tell too much. But if you can write one succinct story in 50 words, then you are tightening your mastery of language and storytelling which will help with longer stories!

Writing 50 Word Stories becomes a great writing drill because it helps you pay close attention to diction, word choice and specific details.  I've been recently in love with this style so I've tried my hand at it.

Van Gogh’s Lover

He put his hand in the fire for me.  He was in the parlor with my father, his uncle.

“Let me see her for as long as my hand is in the flame!” he declared, making quite an impression.  I heard him across the house.

But father sent him away.

[THIS IS A TRUE STORY! NERDING OUT!! It's also the basis for my short fiction piece on Vincent Van Gogh entitled "Ex Nihilo" which tells about his descent into madness as he copes with unrequited love.]


There is a cake with dark frosting.  

It is there in a parlor, in a white house with white walls, for a party.  

The hostess cuts slices.  

You don’t like the taste but still eat it, smiling, since you know you are watched, and you’d rather not die over cake.

Sweet Table Chicago

The Ex-Letter

He knew the words were his.  His hand could still retrace them.

“You are my body and soul; you are all love divine; you are a muse to me; you alone are mine.”

He trembled and bought her book.  She had printed every letter, and he re-read every word.

Do you think a story can be told in 50 words?

Do you think you can do it?

Accept the challenge and share your own 50 word story in the comment section!

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  1. Oooh, I'll have to toy with this one for a bit. I love your 50 word stories, and I definitely think that tight flash fiction like that is a great way to hone your skills.

    But have you ever heard of the six word story?

    1. Yay! Well if you come up with one, please share it!

      And yes, I have. I've heard the folk tale about Hemingway's six word story, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." It's so chilling and so short!

  2. Well, clearly it can be done, because you've done it, hehe. :) And yours are amazing. I especially love the last two, with that line about not wanting to die over cake, and I ADORE the entire 50 words of The Ex-Letter.

    I might try this at some point, though I think it would actually take more to write a 50-word story, then some longer works. Because you /do/ have to pay so much attention to every little word, tweaking to make sure every single one of the fifty is /perfect/. But I think the brevity and the careful choice of the words makes the finished product that much more beautiful :D

    Again, amazing stories! <3


    1. Thanks Alexa! I may try to submit these other ones to 50 Word Stories, too...because it's just so fun! I'd encourage you to try it out!

  3. What a wonderful exercise. This is so cool. Thanks for sharing this interesting new art form. I like "The Ex-Letter". It is wistful and has a mournful quality which matches well with the fleeting format. These have a lot of oomph for short pieces.

    <3 LR

    1. Thanks Lucy Rose! I'm really in love with this style right now. And I like that one, too. ;)