Flash Fiction

Down the Rabbit Hole: My Inglorious Attempts at Creating 10-Word Stories

Note: This is a piece I recently shared on Medium, “my other blogging network”…

I’ve been tagged a number of times regarding this concept, gentle nudges of inspiration, and I was feeling a bit guilty about ignoring said prompts and not jumping into the fray. And so it came to be, on this otherwise uneventful late Wednesday night, that I started to fiddle with things. Those who have known me for a while realize that brevity is not one of my hallmarks. (This is why Twitter annoys me greatly, even though I still have a mostly-neglected presence on that platform. I want to pontificate! Not abbreviate.) In any case, I took the plunge. And here we go…

1. One murder, two investigations, three trials, four convictions, five liars.

2. He vowed to keep trying until the sky was blue again.

3. Mikala found the map, eventually, but it was too late.

4. See Jane run. Run, Jane, run. Dick is a dick.

5. Every survivor around the campfire swore they would never tell.

6. The email was deleted, but the cloud never goes away.

7. He showed no emotion whatsoever when the verdict was read.

8. The dusty diary explained everything and nothing, page after page.

9. She yearned to tell him why, but she never did.

10. At last, the clouds parted, and the two suns sparkled.

11. It was never the singing, it was the time together.

12. The dusty typewriter in the attic changed his life completely.

13. Marisa signed the divorce papers, and she could breathe again.

14. The writer launched the Medium ship, and it immediately sank.

15. Reading books, late in the night, gave him hope.

16. The birth certificate had a name she did not recognize.

17. Cletus was confident until the sheep took the witness stand.

18. He waited until her car drove away before he cried.

19. Their eyes met, they knew, and the two men danced.

20. He: “Love me?” She: “I can’t help it, you bastard.”

21. There once was a man from Nantucket. Wait, never mind.

22. Jesus: “Love one another.” Republican Party: “We hate gay people!”

23. Declaration: “We hold these truths…” Trump Supreme Court: “Screw you.”

24. It took decades, but he finally smiled in the mirror.

25. Brian’s eighth grade English teacher: “Never stop writing.”. He didn’t.

26. They didn’t realize what they had until everything was gone.

27. She finally understood that forgiveness was no longer an option.

28. Life is full of opportunities and too many people pass.

29. This List: “Don’t you think you’re overdoing the writing challenge?”

30. This Me: “I just keep typing until it feels right.”

Note, Part II: As an added lark, assuming that you are even interested in such, I would be happy to expand any of the above entries into a longer piece. (With “happy” meaning “I’ll certainly think about it, but let’s not bet any money on it.” Because I have focus issues.) Should you feel so moved, please nominate your fave bit as a candidate for further exposition by scribbling feverishly in the comments…

44 replies »

  1. First off, not sure how you obtained a picture of the inside of my stomach for this blog post, but I’m on high alert now and it won’t happen again.

    #4 Let’s write a children’s book
    #5 Let’s write a thriller where the people say they won’t tell anybody and the killer just lets them go. But the whole town is in on it.
    #9 My wife hates this trope. She’s like, “Why won’t she just tell him?” and I’m like, “because the series would end here.”
    #17 One of my earliest poems was called ‘Bad Cow’. You thought the farmer was having sexy time with his wife in the barn until the end when his wife opened the barn door and he exclaims, “Bad cow!”
    #22 Don’t forget immigrants, blacks, poor people, atheists, etc.
    #24 – and it cracked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about breaking into your supposedly-secure online medical history, but it’s fair to say that your password was a little weak. You might want to use something other than “1234”… 😉

      I love the zig-zag of the creative process, as you have done with your interpretations of some of the entries. It’s fair to say some of my best (if I may say so) stories come from sitting down with no real destination in mind, other than a vague notion of an ill-defined message. The spark comes from scattering the stones in the pathway, not the careful alignment…


    • Thank you! #18 is actually a true story from my high school years, although it involved a guy, not a gal. (“He waited until ‘his’ car drove away before he cried” reads a little odd, logic-wise, so I changed the gender.) The totality of the story is an emotional wallop, so I haven’t yet explored it with my writing, but I do plan to include it in an auto-biography of my younger decades, tentatively entitled “The Predilection of the Southward Bound”. (Said title, cliched as it may sound, came to me in a dream one night, and it got lodged in my brain.)

      Okay, I’m sure that was more detail than you expected. But hey, we’re tight, right? We can ramble away about anything and nothing…. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely! It sounds like a fantastic story–thanks for filling in some of the background! I quite often dream about stories or lines or titles and things, and I keep them whenever possible because my brain is smarter than me!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. This is great! I’d nominate #s 13, 18, and 27.
    You’re not going to believe this but I have “10 word (give or take a few) notes on my phone. If I have a memory or a thought…I write it down. That’s how I got most of my story ideas…when I still wrote.
    Remember…13,18 & 27. 😬

    Liked by 2 people

    • 13, 18 and 27, eh? I may be overstepping my boundaries, but I think I completely get why those three would appeal to you. After all, we’ve been friends for years now, and I’ve read a lot of your stories… 😉

      As for MY story ideas, for the longest time I would write down little prompts on those lined, 3×5 index cards. I must have hundreds of them by now, rubber-banded in chunks and stored in a desk drawer. Every so often I pluck one out and see if I can run with it…

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m so transparent. Bwahahahaha! I went back and read some of mine.
        It’s such a cool idea…but I can’t steal it.
        I remember those no-lo-mo-lo story challenges. (I don’t know what they’re called.) I’m too scatterbrained for that stuff. 10 words? That might work. I can count! 😆

        Liked by 2 people

    • Well, as I was prepping this piece, I did some googling on the “Nantucket” bit to see what the rest of the words were. (I remember them being bawdy and graphic, but my mind is going and things slip away.) Turns out, there are TONS of different versions. (And yes, the bawdy one about self-pleasure was there.) Apparently, that opening line is just a launch point for whatever you want to write, as long as it’s in limerick form. Most of the examples were naughty, but there were some really sweet ones as well. Who knew? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, it can definitely be a challenge when you’re reading someone else’s posts and you run across thoughts that diverge from your own. But I’m a firm believer in listening to everyone, because we all deserve to be heard, and so I try to find the things we have in common, celebrate that, and then move on. (I follow people from across all spectrums, as silos never work.) Folks should be able to say what they want in their own writing playground, and then we should be respectful of that right when we visit other playgrounds. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I really did enjoy this little experiment, so I might be doing some more tinkering…

      And I’m pleased with your Fave selection. Many of these entries are more flashy, but the “singing” one is a quiet bit of truth. When I am with my good friends, it doesn’t matter what we are doing. It’s the “being with” that matters…

      Liked by 2 people

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