Writing 101: Day FIVE: Be Brief

 Writing 101: Day FIVEBe BRIEF

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

None of us will ever know the whole story in other words. We can only collect a bag full of shards that each seem perfect.

— From 100 Word Story‘s About page

Brevity is the goal of this task, although “brief” can mean five words or five-hundred words. You might write a fifty-word story, as writer Vincent Mars publishes on his blog, Boy in the Hat. Or you might tell your tale in precisely one-hundred words, like the folks at 100 Word Story — an approach that forces you to question every word.

For writers who tend to write more, a longer word count may be considered concise, too. At Brevity, writers publish nonfiction of seven-hundred-fifty words or less: there is space to develop a piece, yet a focus on succinctness.

The Note

The shop was closed. I sighed in exasperation and was about to stomp off in a huff, when I saw the little note tucked into the window sill. Curious (I know, it was none of my business), I opened it and read:

I waited and you didn’t come. Nothing’s changed. You are still the same. All talk and no . . . . If you want to see me before I leave, be at the station by 8.    Lily”

A scrawl no doubt, but the letters were legible. My sleuthing instincts and detective-thriller-loving brain conjured up endless possibilities. I looked around, the next shop door was ajar. There was a girl at the counter idly watching a mini TV. She told me what I needed to hear. I ran out like a mad woman and hailed the first cab that came by lazily. It was 7.45 a.m.

Luckily there was only one train expected at our small station at 8.00. I scanned the platform, looking for a girl, a woman, anyone who could be ‘Lily’. Nothing, nobody. The train was being announced. A young man got up nearby, heaving a heavy bag onto his shoulders. He seemed strained and anxious. He dropped his wallet and a photograph peeped out. While picking it up for him, suddenly it all clicked into place.

‘Are you Lleweyn?’, I asked him. ‘Yes’, he said, surprised, ‘how did you . . . .’ I cut him short. ‘She’s in the hospital and unconscious. Yesterday morning as she stepped out of her shop, a hit-and-run maniac pushed her off the kerb . . . .St. johns’, second floor’, I yelled after him. He disappeared as the 8 o’clock Intercity pulled into the station. I looked at the photograph I was left holding. Lleweyn and Marisa, the antique shop girl, were smiling into the camera and on top there was this legend: ‘Llly and Mark, Lleweyn loves Marisa’ !


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