It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
I cannot write; not here, not there. I cannot write most anywhere. Would I? Could I? In a car? I cannot, cannot in a car; Not even in my corner bar. Would I? Could I? On a train? I cannot, cannot on a train; Nor like Hemingway in Spain. I cannot write. I am not Seuss, Beatrix Potter, or Mother Goose. I cannot write. I’m feeling blue. Alas, this verse will have to do!
–––––––––– “Sometimes I write just for fun, but still dream of collecting my drabble in a book.” – the writer
Dear Mr. Spencer, We are replying to your drabble request of earlier today. It sounds very much as if you do indeed have an unexploded bomb in your garden. The description indicates a V62 model; several have been unearthed in recent years as building work has intensified. To de-activate the device please follow the following instructions very carefully. Unscrew the outer shell and put to one side. You will see three coloured wires. It is essential that you cut these in a specific order. Failure to do so could risk personal injury. Carefully separate the wires and then cut the…
–––––––––– “I write just for the fun of it.” – the writer
My day off – before I’m out of bed I’ve formed a plan. I’ll alternate writing with life in 2-hour chunks to get something done besides writing.
7 am – write. 9 am – laundry, dishes, make beds. 11 am – write. 1 pm – lunch, vacuum, walk the dog. 3 pm – write, timer sounds, reset, write some more. 5 pm – pee, make coffee, write some more. 6 pm – throw a haphazard meal together for the family while listening to a writer’s podcast. 7 pm – leave dishes in the sink, turn the timer off, write. Midnight – “Yes I’m coming to bed.” Soon.
“Stan says you’re a writer.” “Yep.” “Nice job. Sitting on your bum all day waiting for inspiration.” “Well …” “What name do you write under?” “My own.” “Never heard of you. I like to read that crime guy whatsisname and the wife likes that romance authoress whatserface. Maybe try your hand at that, eh?” “Probably not.” “So what do you write?” “Literary fiction.” “Yeah? Whatsisname is a millionaire. Worth giving that a go, if you ask me.” “Ah well.” “I won a couple of writing competitions in primary school. Might take it up again when I retire. Bit of extra money.”
–––––––––– “I write to create imaginary worlds that readers can relate to.” – the writer
Brian Denby opened his computer and started writing. He didn’t know why he was writing or what words were actually ending up on the page. His fingers kept moving across the keyboard and the words kept filling up the page. He knew he had to be careful and not cross the 100-word threshold or his story wouldn’t be published. After about 10 minutes he looked at the word count and saw that there were 101 words. Rather than bothering to read the content of the story he looked for a single word to cut.
Bruce Levine writes, he says, “because he simply wants to share with his readers.”
What if I leave the dog out? You can’t leave the dog out. It’s hilarious. How about the two phone calls? Necessary to the plot. But it’s got to be less than 100 words. What if I leave out the storm descriptors? Then, excuse the pun, you destroy the atmosphere. How about the phrases I worked hard at? Like ‘masochistic glee’? Yes. Those frilly phrases? Use the scythe. Kill your darlings. So what do I do? Regroup. You can fit anything into 100 words. War and Peace? Yes, even War and Peace.
John Malone is “learning to love the restrictions of the 100-word format.”