Can you write a story with fewer than 300 words?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by BrianW, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    I recently read about a challenge between Asimov and Clarke to write Science Fiction stories that would fit on a postcard. I decided to take up the challenge myself and came up with the following:

    ************************************

    Another Mother

    By Brian Wells

    He had been the boy’s mother so long, he had forgotten what it was like to be himself. Nevertheless, it was time the boy knew the truth.

    “Nathan, there’s something you must know.” Nathan, now sixteen, sat down to listen to his mother. “Nathan, do you remember when your family helped colonize Proxima 4? You were six at the time.”

    Nathan nodded.

    “Well, I have good news, and bad news. When your mother was gathering mineral samples, she encountered the dominant intelligent species on that planet, and there was a terrible accident.”

    “But… you’re my mother.” Nathan was understandably confused.

    “No, tragically, your mother is dead. I’ve been assigned the task of assuming your mother’s form to spare you the grief of her loss and, I fear, to assuage our guilt over her demise.” He assumed his natural, alien state before Nathan’s eyes.

    Nathan was on the verge of tears. “You said you had good news?”

    “Please understand, when we encountered your mother, we had no idea she was a member of an intelligent species. Had we known, things would have gone much differently.”

    “So what’s the good news?”

    “She tasted like chicken.”

    ******************************************




    Anyone else want to give it a try?
     
  2. Mark Giles

    Mark Giles Second Unit

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    Under 300 words huh? Ok, I'll give it a shot....





    Once upon a time, there were some mischievous kids looking to have some fun. They came upon an overpass and decided to throw rocks at cars passing underneath. They were all terrible aim because they spent time causing trouble around town instead of attending gym class.

    After several attempts of throwing the rocks and only being successful a few times, one of the kids thought of an excellent idea. They would go find a long rope and tie something heavy to the end of it. Then as a car passed under, they would throw the heavy object down and if they missed, they could simply pull it back up.

    Shortly later, one of the kids returned with a long rope and a brick. After tying the end of the rope to the brick, they waited until the next car passed under, and BINGO! It was a perfect hit! The car swerved finally coming to rest in a ditch.

    After all of the commotion died down, the kids decided to give it another try. This time a large semi passed below. As the next kid dropped the brick, it broke through the windshield of the semi, and barely missed the driver. The kid, on the other hand, had the rope tied around his arm much to tight, resulting to the momentum from the semi causing the kids arm to be ripped right off!!

    A car passing close by, saw the arm dangling from the semi and called the police from their cellular phone. Within minutes the police pulled the semi over, ordered the driver of the semi out of the car telling him, “YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!!” The driver of the semi said, “Why?? What are the charges officer?” The policeman snapped the handcuffs on him and said, “Armed Robbery”.

    __________________________________________________ _____




    I wish I could take the credit for coming up with the story [​IMG]
     
  3. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    That's not science fiction.

    Brian, I thought your story good. It sucked me right in with the first sentence, the whole he/mother thing, and I instantly knew I was in a place that wasn't quite right.

    I was, however, disappointed that it ended as a joke. It's easy to write a joke less than 300. A story, on the other hand, now that's a challenge.

    It's a slow day at work. Maybe I'll give it a try.
     
  4. Bryce_H

    Bryce_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Once upon a time they lived happily ever after.

    Nine words [​IMG]
     
  5. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Yeah, I get that a lot. [​IMG]
     
  6. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I now present a mystery novel containing royal intrigue, sex & religion in only 14 words.


    "My God, I'm pregnant!" said the Queen. "I wonder who the father could be?"
     
  7. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't remember who it was, but it seems it was a well-known Science Fiction writer who penned this short-short story:

    The last person on Earth sat in his room. There was a knock on the door.


    Bond. Paul Bond.
     
  8. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    "It was summer, and it was hot. Rachel was there. A lonely gray couch. 'Oh look!', cried Ned, and then the kingdom was his forever. The End!"

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    That would be Frederic Brown. His name immediately popped into my mind when I saw the title of this thread.

    - Walter.
     
  10. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    You beat me to it, Walter. And I was thinking of him too. [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  11. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    This is an introduction to a story I'm writing at some point. The title plus the whole intro (minus the last sentence which assumes there is more to follow) - 299 words. You'll have to read the rest at some point in the future, hopefully... And yes, the title is a reference to Lars von Trier's Kingdom. And it's not science fiction, it's horror, but what the hell. And it's deliberately in one large paragraph. If there are other errors, please correct me.

    Mors in Tabula
    = = =
    The dark hours were cold and unnerving. The seasons had faded with the holocaust, and the sun had not shined since that unforgettable day. Erik was on his way home from the university, walking his normal route. But this night something was different. He could feel it, although he could not see, hear, or smell it. Because of this inexplicable but somehow perceptible phenomenon Erik’s pace had quickened, and he strayed around corners to reach his sanctuary. In his haste Erik did not detect the shadow that followed him through the streets, and he did not realize the danger it induced before it was too late. As he was almost home and safe he suddenly noticed the presence of the other entity and quickly turned around to confront it with his gun ready to fire. But there was no creature in sight. The only aberrant entry in the urban image was a tall, slender statue by the road. His heart skipped a beat and he stopped breathing for a second. Erik had never seen such a creation, and happily so. It was a humanoid body with long arms and legs ending in jagged claws. The upper limbs lay crossed on its chest and the hollow eyes gazed beyond the horizon. Its face was corrupted in an unearthly way with a large, intimidating mouth captured in a warped position. Shivers ran down Erik’s spine as he studied the figure from a distance. He was undoubtedly afraid of it, but he was even more troubled to turn his back against it and run. In awe of its tainted presence he approached nearer until he stood but one step away from the construct. He did notice the leathery, wrinkled texture on its hands… and that is all he remembered.
    = = =
     
  12. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Artur, I've had dreams like that, except the statue was Charley McCarthy. (Really!) Your style invokes a creepiness that you should be proud of.

    This is great! I had a hunch there were some amateur (and pro) writers among us with some interesting ideas to express. I'm happy to read any genre (so keep them coming), but I confess that I do not have the skill to write in so limited a setting as current reality, so Science Fiction is my only outlet. (That is, if I have any skill at all.)

    I'm working on another "story" (joke, what have you [​IMG]), and I'll add it when I'm finished.
     
  13. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    If that's the case, I certainly am, and I'm happy that you think so, because it was one of the goals with this particular story/bit... However, it will be something of a challenge to finish the story, since that kind of language takes some time to write.
     
  14. Paul Bond

    Paul Bond Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Walter (and Cees). I kind of thought it was him, but I wasn't sure. I also seem to recall someone finding - after his death - this scribbled note:

    "Ghosts in a Martian department store."

    Just that leaves one wondering.


    Bond. Paul Bond.
     
  15. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    His name is also given as Fredric brown, it may even be his proper name.

    In some company, I still recite his short story "Answer". I can do it by head, or at least close enough to make it worthy. Especially the slightly complicated last sentence still acts as a great punch line.


    BTW, the solution to "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door." isn't too difficult or horrible, according to the writer:

    In the end, all the Zan have gone, however, and it happens again. Read Fredric Brown's short story 'Knock' here!


    Cees
     
  16. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Okay, here's another.


    ****************************

    “What is it?”

    “It’s a doorway to a parallel universe! We’re going to be rich!”

    “It looks like a regular door in a wooden frame.” Bernard walked around the structure, skeptical of its maker’s claims. “Right. So how’s it work?”

    Wallace was enthusiastic. “Just walk through!”

    Bernard opened the door. “It’s just a stupid door! It doesn’t go anywhere!”

    “Oh, but it does! It leads to a universe exactly like our own! Try it!”

    Bernard walked over the threshold and turned to face Wallace. “Well? I’m still here.”

    “No, you just think you’re still here, because here looks just like where you came from.”

    Bernard was unmoved. “So you’re a different Wallace, in a different universe, that’s indistinguishable from the universe I just came from?”

    “Exactly!”

    “You imbecile.” Bernard slammed the door and exited the lab. Wallace carefully opened the door and began making adjustments to the strike plate.

    Another Wallace emerged from the men’s room. “Did I miss the demo? How’d it go?”

    Wallace number one was dejected. “I don’t think he likes it.”

    Wallace number two said, “Did you tell him that it takes you to an identical parallel universe, but a week into the future?”

    “Why? Do you think that’s important?”
     
  17. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    The first day she was disoriented. Savage with self-loathing. Terror coalesced to certainty; survival of the world (hers) depended upon ability to adaptation and reason. Cars yes, but engines would not run. Envisioned a badge flashing official, “I’m sorry Sir, I need to commandeer your bike.” When the first rock bounced off the cycle shop window her giggle stabbed her with grief. By Day two, mind sharpened like an arrow whose trajectory was a pre-assured perfect bullseye. Her Home.


    Horror of comprehension “No”, she would not use a word which denoted understanding. Observance was better terminology for what greeted her return from restroom to office. Life had somehow winked out, away, over? No one living bird, cat, dog or human in sight. Exploring this environment she spied the words engraved under the hands of the old beautiful clock downtown. The 4-sided behemoth that graced the steeple of a well-heeled church had always engendered a tinge of melancholy during her daily commute. Reading, feet froze in momentary terror to pavement. She began her journey home.

    By the third day, her fury rose, How did people so organize life that they allowed long commutes to become only modern annoyance. Anger, on the 4th day kept the memory of the clock away. The words seemed a key, to the riddle. Emptiness everywhere.

    She raced to the backdoor quickest egress to the home heart, the family room.
    In the kitchen, her hoarse cries rang out, as she skidded to a stop on the travertine whose expense had caused a martial fight. Knees cracked as she collapsed before the refrigerator. There in her son’s hand was the phrase on the clock, no sign of the baseball schedule written in her own neat script.

    The words slid sickeningly downhill on the erasable board. Night Cometh.
     
  18. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    Impressive Mary... [​IMG]
     
  19. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Wow, Mary. Thanks for sharing. [​IMG] Yeah, I've had days like that. Here's a tip: Get yourself a PDA. It'll keep your life organized, and you won't find yourself screaming in front of the refrigerator nearly as often.

    Seriously, thanks for that. It was very evocative, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. [​IMG]
     
  20. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    500+ rough draft. I would not have played except for the convenience of “Word Count” which enabled chopping down to 299 in 3 minutes… to bad the quick edit did not add to it! [​IMG]

    Where are the rest of HTF storytellers? Love to see a couple of hundred more samples
     

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