At the end of April, I was a guest speaker in a friend’s college class. I talked about flash fiction and how cutting a story to its bones can sometimes make a story stronger and more universal. We did a writing exercise, cutting stories in half and then in half again, down to their very essentials, and it was amazing how often we found these very brief distillations of story were better, sharper, and more moving than their longer versions.
As a challenge, I asked students to enter the 53-Word Story contest. The prompt was to write a 53-word story set in a carnival. I promised that I would enter the contest, too.
And I did. My entry was a piece I’d been working on for a while. There were several versions, all of them going on for several pages, but not quite working out the way I wanted them to.
I took them, stripped them, boiled them down. This story was the result.
Chop, chop, chop!