Flash Fiction Challenge: The Three-Sentence Story

Pretty straightforward — given that we’re in the long haul of National Novel Writing Month, feels like a shorter, sharper flash fiction contest deserves to be in play. What does that mean?

It means I want you to write a single story in three sentences. The shorter those sentences are, the better. Remember: a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

It is not merely a vignette — not simply a snapshot in time.

You can deposit this story in the comments below.

Due in one week — by Friday, noon EST.

I’ll pick three random participants on that Friday and will toss each winner a copy of my newest writing e-book, 30 Days in the Word Mines. (A book that has been described as an advent calendar for NaNoWriMo, which is a description I quite like.)

Sound good?

Get to writing.

Three sentences.

Short as you can make them — clarity and brevity are king.



  • The rain poured through the cracked roof, filling the buckets scattered throughout the house, and feeding the squirming things inside. Lauren killed them all with fire, dripping gasoline over the rainwater and dropping in a lit match, one at a time, and feeling her soul grow lighter with each new pyre. Eventually, the entire house burned, and Lauren burned with it, satisfied knowing her work had been completed, and the world was safe for another thousand years.

  • “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” The controversial in vitro procedure was a success, but Charles would never walk like the other children. Of course, it paid off with a gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle in the 2020 Tokyo games.

  • She parked badly. The drive home after receiving the text was a blur. Motionless behind the wheel, she watched the covered figure being loaded into the back of an ambulance.

  • The line of people stretches as far as the eye can see. Paul’s bladder bulges with agony, and his greatest regret is the jumbo-sized drink at the theatre. The bush is too small to provide adequate cover, but his need is too great; at least, that’s what he tells the police officer who arrests him.

  • She got the test results in the mail, suspicion confirmed. An unused wedding dress was returned that day. He found her body without a note.

  • In a terrible rage one night I ran my hands along the wall until I found the perfect place and then I set up like a boxer in a ring. A fierce storm raged outside and yet I’d captured it inside. I chose my punches carefully and let the feeling of my fists against stone re-awaken my faith.


  • I’m in a weird mood.

    Hank was hurt hanging hyacinths. Perhaps poisoned petals painted him purple? Medics mulled over murder, while Mary made for Mexico.

  • As a kid I’d wait for the predawn and sneak through the house with my toy pistol ready.
    In the academy my nickname was “Ghost Gun”.
    Tonight one hand wraps my rosary; the other, my Glock as I enter the Pope’s room.

  • His eyes rolled and gnashed against the base of the tree. A misjudged uncalculated swoop and his leg was in tears. A poor conclusion with a humbling verdict, he lay dying there, ironic.

  • The Shinigami
    The dog looked up at me as I walked past, his muzzle buried deep within his paws. His owner, a homeless man with a guitar and face that had traveled further than the years on his driving licence glanced at me, brief recognition flaring behind drink stained eyes. It would have been a mercy to stop and end his sorrow, but I take no man before his time.

  • All around the Brobdingnagian craft of the winged alien, clusters of curious onlookers fell in heaps like rag dolls. “But how?” cried out one scientist. The alien fixed the crumpled woman with its beatific gaze and said,”We built a backdoor into your DNA.”

  • Three Weeks a Lifetime

    They had met through shared friends and almost immediately gave into lustful appetites.
    The intensity continued on into the next week, but as it passed so did their passion.
    Seven more days would have seen an end but instead reveled the prospect of a new beginning.

  • Wait! I must read directions. You said “short.” Revised:

    Everywhere people collapsed like rag dolls. A scientist gasped, “How?” The alien replied, “The backdoor we built into your DNA.”

  • When Simon didn’t come home last night, I knew that was the end. The change had been so quick that none of us had time to prepare, to ready ourselves for what would come next. So now we just waited, huddled behind walls that were too thin, clutching weapons that were too small, whispering prayers that were too late.

  • She was born to the sound of fiddles and dancing. At her coronation, brazen fanfares. She was laid to rest to the sound of a heartbreaking requiem.

  • “Where’s my money bitch?”, screamed Pauli as he repeatedly bashed the man’s head into the floor. He felt angry, he felt rage, but what he didn’t feel was the man pull his own gun from its holster. A moment later and money was the last thing on his mind.

  • Mr. Alexander watched her walk away, imagining the the sound of her heels through the rain, the smack of matching red lips as she popped her gum. Death was following her and she knew, just like he did, but what she didn’t know, was that life always had a way of coming back. This is what he told himself as he matched her steps stride for stride.

  • When they met, she said she’d give him everything he could ever desire. When she left him, she said it was hopeless, that she could never satisfy him.

    “That was all I ever wanted in the first place.”

  • They met over artisan whiskeys in a bar that had once been a dentist’s office. With little to go on, she thought he could be kind to her, safe enough in his own skin to teach her to live safely in her own. It broke apart years later, amid tears and pleas and a final, raging silence, on the floor of a hollow space that had once been a whiskey bar.

  • November 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM // Reply

    An incomprehensible spark of desire caused his existence. His entire life seemed to be controlled by that same phenomenon. He then left this world, a victim of his very creation.

  • It seemed an impossible feat, and yet they kept coming. Three sentence stories of every style and taste. I’d had my fill yet with uncharacteristic selfishness kept coming back for more, devouring every word and giving back nothing.

  • I didn’t think it would hurt when I fell for you, but now I’m falling again and I can’t believe how wrong I’ve been. I’ve told people all my life that when you hit the ground the pain is gone, and I really hope I’m right this time.
    It would kill me to die a liar.

  • The sun rises, a warm kiss. The sun falls, a cool, trembling hand. The sun is gone, a harsh, cold stone.

    Sorry, I wanted to do a second one for fun 😛

  • You’ll never know how much it hurts until it happens to you. Darkness surrounded, Emptiness settling, Lifeless and Sad. You’ll never know how much it hurts, until it happens to you.

  • Her dead child sent her to Kodiak.
    Mama bears hustled their cubs away from her all that summer.
    Naked and cold, she chased the bears through whitewater, yelling, “Look at me, look at me, god damn you!”

  • The crocodile head sat on the surface of the water. Through many summers, winters and springs it stayed tethered to it’s rope. That crocodile head was the best thing Mohamed ever bought on ebay.

  • I ran straight into the cage, the fucking vertical-turn-it-yourself mantrap that’s the exit for so many travelers of our fine mass transit system. Hand on the curved rod and pushing, clink, my weapon hits the floor and the turnstile is stuck; they’d put a rail spike in the maiden to stop the spin. I’d made my peace over past weeks and, bending down then looking up, seeing the hollow dark eyes, the crazy bastard grins cast in shadows from the submerged go and stop lights, I picked up my piece, put it under my chin, and gently retired.

  • The chick sitting opposite him on the train was crying, and Joe stared at the giant tears that tracked down her face. As he watched, unable to tear his eyes away, she wrenched a diamond solitaire from her finger and in a rapid, twisting movement, hurled it from the window.

    “Um, whoever he is, he’s an asshole,” Joe murmured, “but we’re not all like that.”

  • “Hickory dickory dock”- His last words are a nursery rhyme as the timer stops, then the sound of gasping and the silenced ticking clock. His lips part, in slight relief before the world explodes suddenly in singeing white – drowning him in flame. She smiles, watching beyond the glass reveling in the look of morbid surprise on his now charred face as the magicked words failed him.

  • A virus kills social networks. Young people in despair roam around cities, screaming for likes and comments, until they too were killed by the virus. The virus’ name is maturity.

  • She awakes restrained and confused. The knife flashes in the firelight as it draws precious blood from her heart. With the life of an innocent, the gateway is finally opening.

  • From the path leading up to the castle, he could hear the anguished screams and cries of his wife.

    He doubled the speed of his clumsy gait, desperate to reach her, and then flung open the door to bellow her name and wait, not breathing until her voice exploded in the darkness.

    “I’M LATE!” roared Mrs. Frankenstein.

  • He finished the last tequila shot and staggered to the door. He knew she had to be out there in the darkness somewhere, probably with the remnants of his heart in her Coach purse. Alone at 2:15 a.m. on a Tuesday he began the long walk back to a home that he knew would be empty.

  • He would see her face, a pale, wistful oval, distorted a little by the wavy kitchen window glass, staring toward the barn where he worked long on his paintings – until one day it wasn’t there any more. As his hands, bent with arthritis now, cleaned his brushes for the last time, he looked toward the kitchen window- wishing for that face. He would tell her he had been wrong- he was sorry – life comes before art.

  • (2nd entry, since I reread the contest post by Chuck. I just had too.)

    The rules were vaguely clear. Write three short sentences, the shorter the better. Winners picked at random.

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