Flash Fiction Challenge: A Story In Three Sentences

Last week’s challenge: Superheroes Plus!

This week’s challenge is an old favorite — one that’s easy to describe, yet difficult in execution.

I want you to write a single story in three sentences.

Not a snapshot. Not a vignette. A complete story. Beginning, middle, and end.

Three sentences.

Easy to half-ass — but challenging to execute with elegance and power.

But, life’s too short not to give it a go, so: you are challenged.

*throws down glove*

*fires starting pistol*

*Tasers you or whatever*

Ahem.

The way to do this is easy:

Go to the comments below and write your three sentence story directly into a comment. Shorter is better than longer — if your story hits 100 words, you might wanna rethink the length.

Think about plot, rhythm, character.

Contained in the small package of three sentences.

I’ll pick an unnumbered handful of ones I like, and to those I dig, I’ll toss digital codes for all my writing-related e-books (with the exception of The Kick-Ass Writer, which is not mine to automatically distribute for free).

You get one entry only. Multiple entries disqualifies you.

Some loose suggestions:

Check your spelling.

Don’t be cliche.

Read other people’s entries so you don’t replicate them.

Write it in a word processor first. Give it edits before posting.

Do not settle for mediocrity.

The story is due by next Friday, August 1st, at noon EST.

WINNERS

Okay, the winners are (correct me if I have this wrong):

Momdude!

Ellsimp!

Andrew F. Butters!

Martin Wells!

Ryan Nolte!

You folks:

Email me at terribleminds at gmail dot com. Congrats!

395 comments

  • It was the greatest city ever constructed. They said it could never be destroyed, but they were wrong and he was emperor. The city burned before him as he strummed his lyre and laughed.

  • no I will not run with you to chase the rainbows end you said the illusion cannot be physically approached

    a meteorologic artifact of atmosphere and angle you said only a sunbeam broken

    my gold cloud hoard bleeds rain like tears and I wait for you

  • “Hold my hand, dear” the teacher kindly said on my first day of school as an evacuee from London. When my parents were killed in an air raid she became my new mother. “Hold my hand, dear” she quietly murmured 52 years later from her hospital bed before leaving this world.

  • I swore to myself that I would never let the nightmarish experience of that night happen again. The next day I stole the sharpest knife I could find in the kitchen and hid it under my pillow. The night he came back, it was his blood and not mine that stained the sheets in the dead of night.

  • July 29, 2014 at 11:47 PM // Reply

    Wow! This was fun, but challenging. Here’s my attempt:

    The humid night air clings to me, sticky and glistening, as I tug my miniskirt a little lower and hunt for a cab. I don’t find one: I grasp at his shirt, my hands weakening as hot ropes of blood stream down my neck to pool in the hollow of my throat. I spread my fingers in the warm earth; I go to sleep.

  • When she was twelve years old, her mother sold her to the man next door, and to him, she bore a son. Her boy loved apple slices, and he ate them all day, until right before bed. In the morning, she found him blue, and vowed to keep apples away from children forever.

  • He began running, not knowing why, but understanding his life was in jeopardy. The dead girl’s father stepped into the clearing, his blood-covered hands clutching a rifle. The man, guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, never heard the shot that crashed through his skull, ending his life before his body hit the pavement.

  • July 30, 2014 at 5:09 AM // Reply

    She who had power smote the weak. But those knocked over were the ones that made her shoes. Thus her feet blistered and the queen learned to knit socks.

  • My heart is pounding in my chest as a familiar-looking face walks into the restaurant. “I recognize you from your OkCupid profile, so you have to be Lauren.” I nod and nervously invite him to join me for lunch, my Pinterest pins for wedding ideas creeping into my thoughts.

  • They were childhood best friends who sprinted away together across the knolls to foreign hallways while their mothers were being abused by suburban, upper middle-class men. Once there they’d sing songs, any song, hands entwined for protection, quieting whenever tenants passed by. Their young friendship didn’t last, unable to withstand the ferocity of one mother’s nervous breakdown and subsequent religious conversion.

  • “The world is ending”, she said, “And it’s partly your fault”.
    They talked while they waited; little by little, he started to agree.
    He was just about to say so, when the lights went out.

  • July 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM // Reply

    Lots of entries this week–have fun deciding, Wendig! This was a good exercise to ease me back into writing after a 5-week vacation.

    I should have cried over my last sunrise on earth. Multicolored and lasting, it was worth a few tears. But all I could think as they strapped me into the launch capsule was, “I alone will survive; I shall live to tell the tale!”

  • While driving home for Christmas on a cold winter’s day I saw her, dressed in black walking alongside the road and asked if she wanted a ride.
    When we got out of the car, Rosie my old lab came to greet us, the girl stayed for three weeks without a word, as I was about to leave for school she handed me a train schedule.
    We stood on opposite sides of the tracks, the train passed and she was gone, two years later I received a note thanking my family

  • The view from the peak was gorgeous; vast, endless and blue. Julia offered a warm smile to her husband as the wind wafted an unfamiliar perfume into her face. She placed her hand on the small of his back.

  • Inevitably, when word got out about the social media psych experiments, the response was outrage – that making people artificially happy or sad or attracted to those they’d normally eschew was unprincipled, and that some things were best left to the heart and the heavens, and only a minimally intrusive amount of mathematics. The social media psych heads made the appropriate sounds of contrition in public, yet silently marked the day of forced human breeding much closer than many knew to count. The truth, indeed, lie among the stars.

  • She thought that they had been lying when they told her about the things that walked along the beach at night. They had not been lying. Now, she could not forget.

  • I saw him sit down with her on the park bench, enjoying life and nature together. Even though I was frustrated by this change of events, I couldn’t help but feel warmed by the sight of them falling in love, sipping from each other’s lips. But I still had a job to do, so I steadied my aim and squeezed the trigger.

  • She flew over the city smiling, arms spread and chin up, the wind fiercely gyres around her cape. The article reported her cape as a towel and her public housing building negligible. She was four.

  • Iniquity, pestilence and war abound, scaring the womb that bore us. The children of Gaia are drowning in a sea of chaos, who is responsible I ask as I search for the culprit. A familiar voice laughs in my head and to my horror, I now understand that the chaos emanates from the maelstrom of my mind!

  • “This will be twenty-seven times, Jule, we can’t do more than thirty,” Alan bellowed.

    Juliet nodded, hair wild in the rush and swoop of air that always preceded a leap, and shouted back, “Don’t worry, it’ll be different this time, I promise.”

    As the familiar wrench of breath and bones caught hold and eased, she steeled herself for his shriek, watched him fall once more down the cliff-face, and then turned in the opposite direction and began to run.

  • Shelly, the cute girl next door, got a puppy for her birthday. I tried to impress her by offering to train it. To this day, I’m still not allowed in her house–which is a damn shame, because I left my pinky toe in her dog’s mouth, and eventually I’m gonna want it back.

  • Martin’s handwriting is all slants and loops, and the angles of it remind me of the curve of his spine, bathed in moonlight underneath white sheets. ‘Fotheringay was a decoy- they are coming for you- get out NOW’. Behind me, I hear the clicking of a latch.

  • John tossed his gun belt, let his jeans drop, and enjoyed the air on his privates as he watched the long, golden piss he had been holding since Tehachapi Pass fall down into the canyon. He thought about shooting the horse – he had no water for it – but he had no taste for guns anymore.

    He heard them first, then he smelled their dust, their horses and their rotten hunger for vengeance, but he did not bother to look back.

  • He mailed her a sigh of a poem – long with longing, damp with despair. She read it, ripped it to shreds, taped it together and strode to him, trailing fiery scarves and musky cats. The rest of his pages were blank.

  • The house sat upon the hilltop, abandoned forever, its gaping maw open for all to see. You were going to enter it, despite the tales, desperate to prove yourself, unafraid you enter, as you cross the threshold the doors snap shut leaving you in darkness. Later as the maw reopens nothing but a mouth like hole in the floor, never to be seen again.

  • At first it was simply an idea, a tiny crack in our once-perfect love, a fissure that deepened with each wayward glance, awkward silence, and “late night at the office” until it finally grew into the full-blown suspicion that drove me to follow you and to bring along that old handgun you kept by our bed.

    You were angry, as if it was my fault for bursting in on you and that bitch in the middle of such an intimate moment, making it seem like you were the victim here, and even telling me to shut up and calm down, which is when I laughed and pulled out the gun.

    I only wish you could’ve seen the dumbfounded look on your face as I emptied the gun: three bullets for her, so you could watch, then two for you, right in your stupid face, and now the last one, for me.

  • July 31, 2014 at 10:35 PM // Reply

    Capture my heart, he who smiled back, and I’ll be yours forever

    It’s time to replace paralyzing fear with abundant courage

    All that’s left is one click on my ebony mouse

  • When she met him, he was funny, intelligent, and everything she had ever hoped for in a husband. When they raised their children, he was faithful, hardworking, and a pillar of the community. When she disposed of his body, he was heavy, unwieldy, and a pain in the ass to drag through the woods.

  • “Would I ever betray you?” he asks, grin crooked and eyes bright with cold fire.

    His hand reaches out to her, and she wraps her fingers tight around his and let’s him pull her up beside him.

    Eight months later: That fire leaped out his eyes and set the world ablaze, and she curls around the knife in her chest and thinks, Yes.

  • Three crows in my neighborhood spend every day together, cawing and begging for scraps. In the middle of the street, two curse the passing cars from the safety of nearby branches. The third waddles away from the smashed pastry in the middle of the street, unimpressed, cocking its head and looking each driver in the eye.

  • He played okay, not good, but okay that night.
    Then the dust settled at the crossroads and the stranger handed his guitar back.
    Now he plays with the ferocity of a tiger, cowering at even the slightest bark.

  • The girl appeared no older than five in the photos that adorned the walls. As the woman looked away from the polished glass of the frames, the clock gave twelve dull bongs. Gripping the cold neck of the bottle, she brought it back to her lips, whispering ‘Happy birthday.’

  • Three Sentence Story

    Sarah fought for Earth’s freedom with strength and valor. Many lives were lost, millions of miles away. But to return home, to the death of love, was too much for her.

  • She descended cautiously, spinning out line until she had a strand that could reach the anchor point.

    The moment she swung towards her target a dazzling light electrified the air and terrified her into hanging tight, hoping to survive.

    When safe darkness returned the spider reached again for the bloodied head she’d decided to tie her web to, but the man was gone now and she was alone in the tomb.

  • Carson looked down at his shaking hands, at the blood, then looked back up at his mother’s face. “Mama?” he said, voice trembling. Not able to pull her eyes away from the body on the ground, his mother said, “Carson, what did you do?”

  • Harold stood amongst the throng of people, staring down at the punctured body with a sick sense of pride that pulled the corner of his mouth up into a sneer. As he edged away from the scene, he drank in their shock, their disgusted mutterings, their grief for the dead man leaking red into the nearest gutter. Limping up the street, he fondled the knife in his pocket, fingered its clean blade and snarled; he would never be strong enough to make his own art, he would always be the pretender.

  • August 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM // Reply

    Here is one that not only fits this challenge, but I entered it in a 7 word challenge, originally a 6 word Hemmingway challenge, but I added “The” for the 7 word challenge. Here it is-

    The world ends. Whimpers fade. Earth continues.

    I decided to make each sentence the chapters of a short story, and it worked well. The three sentence challenge is amazing for writers, as each sentence can be the beginning of a chapter for a short story or novella, elaboration intended.

    • In college, my first senior fiction assignment was to write a few one-sentence stories. It as the first time I ever attempted to limit the wordiness of my storytelling. I love these flash style exercises, too.

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