Bookmarks: Fifty-five words to tell a story
The World’s Shortest Stories is a collection of short stories that are no longer than 55 words. There are five categories of stories: “With Murder in Mind,” “Yes, Love Happens,” “The Streets of the City,” “Yonder” and “Further Voices.” With only 55 words to work with, all of the writers featured wrote memorable short stories, but they were memorable for unconventional reasons. Without the ability to develop characters in a traditional way, the stories force you to infer context and surroundings, but don’t give the reader the chance to get comfortable in them. The stories themselves account for 224 pages of the book, and those 224 pages read more slowly than you would think.
Because of the extreme word limitation, a few of the stories rely on hints and assumptions of the reader to really tell the story. There were a few of the stories that I had to go back and reread because the “things unsaid” were not apparent on the first read. That being said, the majority of the stories had surprise endings, or took a turn that was completely unexpected, making those 55 words that much more interesting.
“The World’s Shortest Stories” was a random, albeit inexpensive, find at my local Barnes & Noble. A whopping $9.99 got me an insightful look at a creative writing exercise that I had actually tried my hand at when I took fiction writing last spring. This small paperback is a great book to sit back and take a quick break with (the short stories are broken up with black and white watercolor images, adding a visual to the already surprising stories) and in my opinion, they can act as a reference guide for your own creative writing.