I will make my own choices and live the way I want to, not like everyone around me.
--I had written, as a thirteen year old, in a tattered notebook.
I looked at it and then went to go heat up the kids' macaroni and cheese in the fucking microwave.
The sword rang angrily on the flagstones as confirmation of the deed. The traitor was dead, and with him, the joy of her life. And in that instant, all she could think of was the king's orders, her family, and her husband, winding circularly through her thoughts, until the bitter tears washed them out. She flung them at the ground, at the events of her past that led her to this moment, and the stoic deities jaded to her pleas.
Then she went home to eat some coffee cake and tough it out over VHS recordings of All My Children.
I crashed on the shore.
The aliens took me in.
That's when time started.
And in that place I experienced a world of information, of emotion, of senses.
I met the clockman when I was young, in a dream.
He said he would see me later.
I nearly forgot him, having spent so long in that place.
I really enjoyed every second.
Then came the day I said farewell to the aliens, to the world, and dreamt anew.
And in that dream stood a familiar figure.
"Welcome back," he smiled while pouring tea, "if I could have your time."
I don't think I can pinpoint anything specific that I like about this piece without rambling on nonsensically about my own view of the story, but I do know that I like it, so allow me to ramble away anyhow.
One possibility could be how "time" seems to be subtly stressed as a focal point (I've always been a sucker for screwing around with time). "He said he would see me later." carries a certain weight behind it. Even with the restriction of one hundred words, it gives you that chilling feeling of what's to come, and the brevity of that situation adds impact to such a statement. The implication that time had a start lead me to become aware that it would also have an end, and there is a certain looming anxiety associated with that awareness of an impending departure. Every sentence inched closer to the promise of meeting the clockman once more, while also racing towards the finish line. These two prominent events I had singled out in my mind colliding at the end of the road made for an exciting climax and a hunger for more story at what felt like a cliffhanger.
Again, these are just sort of... observations that came about from my own interpretation of the story. Make of it what you will. Perhaps I'm just overanalyzing something simple that caught my eye, but I don't think that's the case. I think there are a lot of interesting devices to be tinkered around with and considered in this compact package of a story. Otherwise, why would I even bother posting my opinion, right?
Anyways, nice work. It was definitely something for my brain to chew on for a while.
"One-hundred words, I can manage that," I say to no one, staring at a blank page.
Words fly onto the page initially but stop shortly after. A sea of white lays beyond the few characters I wrote. One-hundred words seem like an insurmountable literary feat.
"Only fifty words..." I mutter.
Your story isn't bad, but I would change two things. It might be one, they kind of go together.
First of all, you have two words to play with and an uncertain ending. I would try to use the maximum word count to create the most you can. One thing I would make clearer is that Bessie is dead at the end. It's implied, I think, but you could make it stronger by adding a few words here or there. I love the line about the weight she had been carrying being relieved. It is pretty haunting (and the line that makes me believe she is dead), but I felt like the lines after that were weaker. I feel like the story should have ended with a line about her burden being gone for good. A parallel where her looks on that last Friday vs her in her casket would make a shocking and vivid image. Of course, if Bessie is alive at the end then it gave of the wrong vibe...
Second, don't "waste" words on things like "just". "It was just last Friday..." and "It was last Friday..." have nearly the same meaning and impact, so you could have saved a word there. In a 100 word story you want every word to contribute to maximum effectiveness. That word could be changed to describe Bessie more or add some detail that makes the story more engaging rather than making "last Friday" into "just last Friday". It isn't bad the way it is, but this tip will help you with shorter and shorter stories like this. If you were doing a 50-word story, then 2% of your entire story would be wasted on that filler word. If you were doing a 10 word story, then it would be 10%. The idea of these is to say the most with the fewest words.
She had long thought that the nature of fires was a calm one, a docile one. Kept in people's homes, confined to fireplaces and torches and stoves, where the heat turned flour to bread. She had forgotten the ravenous appetite of flames so well-known to the town elders, consuming entire cities in mere hours. Standing outside the village with a sword in hand, the curl of dragon claws reflected the glow of a town on fire. This was not the fire she knew. But it would be the fire she would never forget. She drew her sword.
I wanted to leave the story purposefully without a bland ending like that. I thought it would feel unsatisfying compared to the rest of what I wrote, lol.
I love word count restrictions like these even though I'm terrible at them. So here's my attempt (exactly 100 words):
You awake with a jolt. You're lying near a weak fire, surrounded by a group of gaunt people, dressed in tattered furs, and frozen tundra that stretches forever.
"Where the hell am I?!"
"Hush," an old man says, "We must be silent, and painfully careful, or the Beast will catch us."
A gust of wind, chilling to the bone, is accompanied by a similarly chilling howl.
All your questions disappear, replaced by primal fear.
As you travel, life seems worse than death, but stories of the Beast are so much worse.
Little do you know, Hell's always been frozen over.
Oh, no one commented on this. Sorry for the late response, but I'll throw out a few suggestions.
Double punctuation (such as "?!") isn't correct. I recommend just putting the question mark and letting the writing tip off the reader as to the tone. For example, "W-where am I?" "Where am I?" and "Where the hell am I?" all read differently. You don't need the exclamation point because of how dramatic the question is.
When you have a word restriction it's often best to leave descriptions as simple as possible while giving the full effect. Adverbs (words that modify a verb, usually ending in "ly") are often unnecessary or can be dropped if you use a stronger verb. This will save you precious words. For example, "silent and painfully careful" could be "silent and careful" without losing meaning. Of course, you could use a different word other than "careful" if you want to modify the meaning. Words like "cautious" or "meticulous" might get the idea across that you have to be careful to an unusual or uncomfortable level without adding a word.
I felt the plot was lacking a bit, which is understandable since you only had 100 words, but I would focus on a few different things to make the story more effective. One of these would be to get rid of the third to last paragraph about fear, and describing the feeling of being afraid rather than telling us "you are afraid." For example, perhaps you could say that we shiver but not from the cold, implying that we are shaking in fear.
On that same point, I felt the description of the cold was very vivid while the beast was very non-descriptive and ineffective. Maybe more details would help. Rather than saying the stories of the beast are scary, you could tell us one short story that makes us fear the beast. Perhaps it is best to omit the beast and focus on being cold but never finding shelter. I don't know what the goal was, but I'm not scared of the beast because it's too vague.
Thanks for the detailed advice! I probably tried to do too much in 100 words, since the idea I had was a person waking up in Hell and being tortured by the presence of a beast that doesn't exist, which drives them to suffer an unnecessary amount to try and survive, even though they're dead. You make a good point about adverbs, because it would've helped me flesh out the plot more rather than waste words on overly long descriptions. In fact, while writing I was worried that my descriptions were too long, but couldn't think of a way to shorten them.
Yeah, I picked up on most of that. It's clear that you end up in hell and are constantly in a miserable state. Most of it came though, but the beast was a bit of a wasted plot line on me. The weather seemed more torturous than the beast, and it lined up well with the "hell was always frozen over" line. You probably could have used the same concept without the beast at all, if you were willing to make hell just a vast frozen wasteland where those trapped inside can never get warm or survive easily.
It's amazing how you start to value every word with a limit like 100 words, haha.
"Hush," an elder warns, "We must be silent, and vigilant, or the Beast will come."
Gusts of wind howl, chilling your bones. But is it just wind?
Your questions are replaced by primal fear.
Even though you saw it late the feedback was still great!
I think if I were to revise this story I would just remove the idea of the beast entirely and try to elaborate on the endless travelling and make a more clear allusion to the afterlife.
A father of six and a fervent communist, he wanted a better future for his children. He worked harder than anyone in the village, utterly selflessly, planting and harvesting the bountiful crops.
Finally his dedication was recognized. After they pinned the medal to his chest, he looked around, ragged hat in nearly skeletal hand. "I'm grateful, but...I sure wish I could trade this for a bag of flour for my family. Is there any way we could do that? Just one bag?"
Uproarious laughter was the only response. The next day he was arrested as an enemy of the state.
I can't even take credit for the idea. Monday was the 47 year anniversary of the publication of The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsynwhich, which relates this real life incident among many, many others.
History is extremely depressing and so is the present, people suck. But I like to know things.
We have a hard copy of the book and I always try to learn about the authors of anything I read. But it does get to be too much sometimes, there's a reason why I like fiction so much too even if a lot of people say it's a waste of time.
I can't edit it now.... DX
I had to paste in the last name and the forum handles that really strangly. Why does it have to go in a separate box?
I thought this was really good. A few minor grammatical issues were all that I can find "wrong" with it. They aren't really worth mentioning since they didn't affect readability or understanding (For example, I think "Finally" needs a comma after it, right? Minor things like that were all I noticed).
It felt like a complete story, which is impressive for these 100-word stories. I think the fact that it covered a lot of time without feeling rushed helped with that.
He scanned the lobby of the hotel again. No one matched the description she gave on the app: she was supposed to be wearing white jeans and a red shirt.
This liaison was supposed to be quick; she also had a spouse that would be expecting her in a few hours. Fortunate to both be alone at the same time, their goal was to spark an affair more passionate than their marital relations.
"Oh, it's just you..." a familiar voice sighed, making his heart stop. He turned to see his wife standing there in white jeans and a red shirt.
Yes, that is where I got this idea.
I wrote this some time ago and adjusted it to fit the word count:
I watched as my friends walked up to the Villain. From the confines of my prison, my heart swelled with pride. Then I sensed it before it happened. The way the Villain acted, the familiarity of the situation...
Alas, they attacked, heedless of my anguished cries. One by one they fell, motionless, dead. I realized my fists were pounding against the barrier, tears streaming from my eyes. I could stand it no longer.
I flung a chair at the transparent wall and heard the barrier crack.
Mum entered the room to see me sobbing next to our broken television.
This one is really good. I like the twist, and it was relatable to me watching a lot of shows...
Lol, I like the twist.
"Dear, I'm a superhero," Gordon admits.
"Enough jokes, tell me what this is about," she demands, clutching a black pair of tights.
"That's part of The Shadow's super suit." Gordon reaches out and touches the leggings, turning invisible along with them.
His wife gasps, stumbling forward into her husband's arms. "I'm... sorry," she mutters.
"No, I should apolog-" Gordon starts, crumpling to the ground with a dagger in his back.
She pulls out her cell and dials a number. "Tell the boss that I took care of him," she says before hanging up and sobbing on her husbands cold body.
Ahh, Sorry. It ruined another relationship. I like this one.
I'm not sure you need the all caps to indicate they are yelling, but it was effective. I would swap the order of the second sentence in the second paragraph so the speech tag is with the quote. It was awkward to me this way.
The experiment's repercussions were sublime.
Iridescent blobs bobbed freely in and out of existence throughout the decks of the ship. The observatory was completely swarmed. In minutes, the ship would be little more than an incubation chamber for the proto gods. Maneuvering around the dead, Lieutenant Fraan reached the console, slamming out a call for help and watching with horror as he fused to the controls.
~ ~ ~
Yuth swiveled towards the blinking distress signal. Great, more paperwork. Coordinates: far away. Resolution: fairly complicated. He stared at the screen and sighed, reaching for a cup of coffee.
The official report mentioned nothing.
Every step has weight.
He learned this in war; he would never forgot.
Sneaking up to surprise his now 10 year old son, he tread ever so lightly.
He had dropped his guard, overjoyed. The landmine, lying dormant in the garden, erupted.
His son's tears would be his last embrace.
Decided to try for 50 words, because I enjoy this concept way more than I should, and I have no contest story to write :P