Thursday, 1 December 2005

55 Fiction.............What is it......

The first rule of 55 Fiction writers may seem obvious, but it's broken more often than you might think. One should remember that these are fiction, not essays or poems or errant thoughts.

A lot of people have a hard time getting that straight, no doubt because they have a hard time believing that writing something so short is really possible. They usually end up with only part of a story, often with their character stranded in a situation going nowhere.

So although some may have a more complex definition of just what constitutes a "story," for our purposes, a story is a story only if it contains the following four elements: 1) a setting; 2) a character or characters; 3) conflict; and 4) resolution.

For those who think this is limiting their creativity, consider for a moment that:

* All stories have to be happening someplace, which means they have to have a setting of some kind, even if it's the other side of the universe, the inner reaches of someone's mind, or just the house next-door.

* Characters can have infinite variations. People, animals, clouds, microbes. Anything.

* By conflict, we merely mean that in the course of the story, something has to happen. The lovers argue. The deer flees. The astronauts wait in anticipation. Even in this last example, something is happening, even though no one is moving or talking. There is conflict, which leads us to:

* The outcome of the story, known also as the resolution. This doesn't necessarily mean that there's a moral ("Justice is its own reward," "In the end, love triumphs"), or even that the conflict itself is resolved. It may or may not be.

But what it does mean is that when the story ends, someone has to have learned something.

In this genre, there are no descriptive adverbs or adjectives, but the reader should be able to see the entire scene perfectly. The author stretches the form by having his story start even before his narrative begins, and end beyond his final phrase, making it seem longer than just 55 words.

The main advantage to suggestion is conveying information economically. When the reader knows what you're talking about without your saying so, fewer words are needed. The disadvantage, of course, is losing sight of whether the reader is following you. Too much suggestion becomes obscure and confusing. That's a common error. So is trying to tell too complicated a story in such a tiny space. This 55 Fiction demands a tight focus.

Telling a story in a traditional narrative mode is probably the best approach for new writers, but keep in mind that 55 Fiction encourages experimentation.


It should be a whole story, not a broken thought.


  1. That does make sense to me....and the more detail you put into each part wil determine how long the actual story is. You can have all those elements in a very short (or lengthy) story and still be very creative!!

  2. hey just wrote my exam today-creative writing skills..and we had to write a play and short story and stuff..and i read about the same the way i wanna try this 55 wordstory...hmm..u ve inspired me;p

  3. that's true in theory. that's also the challenge though-to include all those elements in a 55 words story....hard one. nice work though.

  4. I got you tagged. Hope you don't mind.
    Read for having the idea of what I am saying.
    Thx! :)

  5. That is useful information for a writer. But have you seen that blog which collects all tagged attempts? There are some 55-word passages which don't have 1,2,3 and 4 in the conventional way but they make good reading. I'll try and get the link for you. :)