50-Word Mini-Stories: A Creative Writing Exercise

Updated on January 2, 2018
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This is one of several pages of original poetry, prose and reflection by this author which comment on many aspects of the human condition

Yours Truly.
Yours Truly.

These Little Stories

Many years ago, the Daily Telegraph (a prominent, respected newspaper in the UK) ran a writing competition. Their challenge was to write a story in exactly 50 words: not one more and not one less. It's not easy to do, but it's an interesting exercise for any budding writer to try, concentrating the mind as it does on succinctness and clarity of writing. With just 50 words, there is no room at all for meandering or any unnecessary padding! Since then, the readers of many other publications have been invited to try their hand at similar writing formats, including the British Mensa magazine in which one of my efforts - 'What's an Alien?' - was published in 2010.

On this page I've showcased a few of my 50-word essays. Count the words if you like (some leeway was allowed for hyphenated words!). Some are intended to be serious comments on human nature, others are humorous, and one is just an attempt to get as many Beatles song titles as possible into a story.

"Strangers Home and Abroad"

“What shall we do on holiday?” Charlie asked Marge. “Trekking with Sherpas? Camping with the Berbers?”

“Kayaking with Inuits?” suggested Marge.

Charlie and Marge loved cultural adventure; meeting strangers, making friends.

“The house will be empty. Better tell the next door neighbour,” warned Charlie. “I wonder what his name is?”


"The Gambler's Sin"

Satan came in Gambler Wilson's dreams.

"Let's play High Card Wins."

"The stakes?”

“Untold riches if you win; your soul if you lose.”

Wilson considered, agreed, and drew an Ace.

Satan drew a Jack.

“I win!” said Wilson.

Satan smiled. “But playing with the Devil is unforgiveable. So you lose.”

"A Deadly Encounter With a Shower Unit Head"

To myopic eyes the shower unit head resembled a cobra, poised to strike.

Mistakenly he hit the cold tap—in January. The shower spat icy venom. Shrieking, he leapt with mongoose agility. One hand snaked towards the tap and turned rapidly.

In a second it was over.

He was safe.


"Love"

With love, my mother gave birth and nurtured me.

With love, my girlfriend stared into my eyes, squealing "Yes!" to my proposal.

With love, my children laughed and squeezed my hand and needed me so much.

With love, my friends mourned my passing.

What love! The measure of my success.

"A True and Genuine Football (Soccer) Fan"

The fan really wanted to see a great game. But it was dull. One nil. His team’s striker dived in the box to claim an undeserved penalty. His goalkeeper sneakily handled outside the box. A midfielder broke an opponent’s leg. But the fan’s team won, so he went home happy.


"What's An Alien?"

An aggressive alien creature visited our planet.

It was ugly, with a big nose, pinkish hairy skin, and feet that smelled. It was frightened of us for no reason. It resented our differences. It laid claim to our planet.

This strange alien was an Earth Human.

It called me "alien."

"The Faithful Companion"

“Daft old woman,” he cursed at the graveside, “squandering all that money on a stupid dog, instead of leaving it to her loved ones who could’ve used it.”

He left quickly when the rain fell.

The dog stayed by her grave until weak with hunger, pining for his lost mistress.


"True Intelligence?"

An intelligent man spent his life studying, learning everything about everything.

A stupid man spent his life giving love, learning nothing.

The intelligent man died rich and famous - alone.

The stupid man died surrounded by friends.

The intelligent man knew nothing that mattered.

The stupid man knew all that mattered.

"An Old-Fashioned Long Distance Romance"

I awoke to a grey morning. My heart was heavy, my soul lifeless.

My lover writes each month. Today the letter finally arrived, so colour flooded my day. Emotions stirred my heart. Sparks revitalised my soul. I came alive.

A month now to fade to grey until my next awakening.


"Fun With the Beatles (17 Song Titles in 50 Words)"

Hey Jude. Yesterday, your girl Michelle said she’s leaving home.

"Tell me why?"

I’ve got a feeling it’s because you kissed another girl - Julia - the night before”.

We can work it out”.

“Well, she loves you, and all you need is love. Get back with her.”

I will”.

The end.

"Fifty Words?!?"

What a task I’ve set myself! Fifty words! Now, twenty-six different letters in one sentence—that’s an easy thing to do; "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." But fifty words—no more, no less—that’s not so easy. I can’t do it! I give up! Sorry!


"Computer Dating"

Maurice loved his computer and loved internet dating. Very thorough and logical, he spent months scoring every respondent out of one thousand, cross-referencing virtues and failings; writing hundreds of emails, analysing their replies. Sadly, he never had time to go out and meet anyone, so he married his computer instead.

PLEASE VOTE FOR THE BEST STORY - THANKS

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Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Greensleeves Hubs

    I'd Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun

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        at 10 days ago

        i loved what are aliens it was amazing and funny

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        Paula 2 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Alun....Creative, clever, fun to read. Ditto, Linda, "Something I'd like to try." Enjoyed each story, difficult to choose a favorite! I did though, just because you asked. You're very talented. Thanks for the share. I'm practicing, Alun, think I'll make it? Oh! I think I did it, don't you?..........Peace, Paula

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        Linda Bilyeu 2 weeks ago from Orlando, FL

        Very cool concept! Enjoyed the stories. I'm going to give this a try. Thanks for the idea!

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        Jangle Bangles. 3 weeks ago

        Very saucy/spicy. 10/10. I think i could do better though.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 weeks ago from Essex, UK

        Billie Raucci and Anil.K.R; thank you both very much for you comments. Cheers, Alun

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        Anil.K.R 6 weeks ago

        Love your stories

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        Billie Raucci 2 months ago from Illinois

        Love your stories and ideas!

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        Greensleeves Hubs 3 months ago from Essex, UK

        Finn Liam Cooper; It's so nice to see your work in print isn't it! :) It is an exercise which I like because it teaches discipline and the value of brevity and conciseness in writing and yet grants immediate reward - it doesn't take months or years to complete and publish your story as it does when writing a book!

        Thanks also to Chloe and Teena for your comments.

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        Finn Liam Cooper 3 months ago from Los Angeles

        Nice concept. In Tucson there was a paper called The Tucson Weekly and they had a section called Dust Devils. You were to create a narrative in 75 words or less. I submitted several pieces and had two published back in the 1990s.

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        teena 4 months ago

        Thanks you very much

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        Chloe 7 months ago

        I love yours examples they give me an idea

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        Greensleeves Hubs 12 months ago from Essex, UK

        John Gentile; Thanks very much John. It was fun composing them :) Alun

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        John Gentile 12 months ago from Connecticut

        I like your 50 word mini stories. Some of them were very funny. Thanks for sharing.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 16 months ago from Essex, UK

        Felipe; Thanks Felipe - It's always nice to see other peoples' contributions, and it's interesting to read about the challenge you set for your students. I should explain that this is not my site. I write on it but I do not own it.

        This collection of mini-stories is currently on 'Letterpile'. But Letterpile is just a creative writing subdivision of 'HubPages' - a content site where anyone who wishes to write, can contribute articles (in English) on any subject they like. It is a community of writers. I for example contribute articles on travel, astronomy, politics and many other subjects besides these short stories. HubPages provides templates or 'capsules' for text, or for photos, graphs, videos etc, and the writer can then use these as he/she wishes to create an article. It's an easy way of writing a web page without having to create a website of your own.

        So whilst there unfortunately isn't a facility to post stories on this page of mine, you could easily write a page all of your own on HubPages, and post all your students' stories there. The link below will take you to a page where HubPages is explained, and there is an opportunity to sign up. It's absolutely free, and very easy to use, and you can create just one page or as many pages as you want. There's no obligations.

        https://hubpages.com/about/us

        I hope that helps, and if you decide to join, I look forward to welcoming you as a fellow member to HubPages, and I'll give you any support I can! Alun

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        Felipe 16 months ago

        Hi Alun,

        Thanks for your reply and sorry for the unusual writing about writing the other day. It was a fun exercise. I am a teacher of English in Peru, and in one of the lessons we were dealing with short stories and the challenge for the students in class was to come up with a fifty-word story. They have come up with their stories and we were wondering if we could post the stories on this page. If you give us the green light, we would appreciate it.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 17 months ago from Essex, UK

        Felipe; Thanks! Your comment seemed a trifle unusual, so I decided to add up the words and, yes, there are of course fifty. So well done for posting both a comment on creative writing, and an additional contribution to the fifty word short story idea. So incidentally, is this reply!

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        Felipe 17 months ago

        Writing, typing, pushing keys with intensity, things you do when you need to release your repressed emotions and thoughts. Is there anything you won't confess? Maybe there is. Writing can be the medium. Once you've started, you will see how relieved you are and how much you have to confess.

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        Raeee 2 years ago

        Aliens does not have to be ugly...

        Humans = racism

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        Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

        Jodah; Thanks John. This was one of my very first hubs 4 years ago, and it's really nice to know that people are still finding it and reading it. It was one that I particularly enjoyed writing. Much appreciated. :) Alun

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        John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi Alun, I love these 50 word stories. Not an easy thing to do and make them interesting. You did it though..well done. I enjoyed them all particularly "Strangers Home and Abroad". Voted up.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

        EsJam; Appreciated, Alun

        ra; thanks for your opinion. Always nice to hear which stories are peoples' favourites. Alun

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        Essie 2 years ago from Southern California

        This will be useful! Glad I found your profile...enjoying your work!

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        ra 3 years ago

        I loved the 50 word and the beatles mania one

        thnx

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        Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thank you slowpokevoyager. I'm not keen on Michael Jackson, but like some of Elvis's work, and love the Beatles - hence the decision to write them into a 50 word essay! Cheers, Alun

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        Roger Decker 4 years ago from Braggs, Oklahoma

        Loved most of them, but I particularly enjoyed the Beatles mania one. I guess I'm old. I also still love Elvis and Michael Jackson.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

        Vellur; Thank you very much for your visit and for those votes and accolades. Glad you like the page, Nithya, and 'Love'. Alun.

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        Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

        Enjoyed reading your hub, all are great stories but I like the one called Love. Great hub, voted up awesome, interesting and useful.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks John; cheers for visiting and for commenting. Much appreciated.

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        John MacNab 4 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

        Excellent work Greensleeves. I liked the '50 word 'short story as well as the ' alien' one.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thank you very much Angelina for your visit. Glad you liked it :-)

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        Angelina 5 years ago

        Thank you for the great content!

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        Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thank you very much chef-de-jour for your visit and comments. It was enjoyable to write these. Some, I remember came very easily, while others took an age fine-tuning, and just weeding out the last few surplus words to make the total exactly 50.

        But it's an interesting exercise to try, and I guess to follow up on your point, these stories are a way in which anyone can be creative, without having to devote their lives to writing a full blown book or a play. Alun.

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        Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

        There's something of the fable in these half century stories and some are just fun compilations with a punchline! Short shorts are quite the literary thing at present - is it flash fiction? - bursts of prose in concentrated form. Fascinating.

        Thanks for the hub, I vote it up.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks starstream for that, and apologies for not responding much sooner. I agree very much that word exercises like this do make for good literary competitions

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        Dreamer at heart 6 years ago from Northern California

        This is a good idea for a hub pages contest. I think it would be a helpful exercise for all of us too.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Many thanks TeddyAldo for that really nice comment.

        I see you've only just joined HubPages. My best wishes and hopes that you enjoy writing on the site.

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        TeddyAldo 6 years ago from Massachusetts

        I really enjoyed Love. Great original work. Really moved me.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thank you very much sofs for visiting and for giving a really nice comment like that. Cheers.

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        sofs 6 years ago

        Great Hub..glad I found it on the featured hubs... I love your stories and voted on them.. Have a great day ..God Bless:)

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Millionaire Tips. Thank you so much for including a link and plaudits to this page, in your hub. I am grateful.

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        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        I wanted to let you know that I really liked this hub, and am including it in my hub which lists my favorite hubs I've read this week.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thank you Millionaire Tips!Your visit and comments are appreciated!

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        Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

        These are all great! As you can tell by the poll, they are equally popular.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        I LIKE IT DERDRIU!

        A much happier, more satisfactory ending to their overseas vacation! It made me laugh.

        And to be able to have written such a good revised sequel in what must have been less than an hour, suggests maybe you should try your hand at more of these 50 word stories.

        :-)

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        Derdriu 6 years ago

        Alun: I feel shame-faced for giving Charlie and Marge such a dark ending. I fear that I am influenced by having watched a series of old Alfred Hitchcock films, such as "Vertigo" and "Strangers on a Train" (the original with Robert Walker Sr. and Farley Granger). So long live revisionism:

        As their house came into view Charlie and Marge gasped.

        Their garden, no longer a blight, was blooming with flowers and vegetables.

        Opening the front door, they were greeted with delicious aromas from the kitchen.

        A hearty fire crackled in the fireplace.

        A note from their housesitter said, “Welcome home.”

        Respectfully,

        Derdriu

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Yes Derdriu - very very good! :-)

        I did count the words in your sequel to my story because I had an idea of what you might be doing and yes, there are 50 words, so I have to say very good and funny. I like it! Not sure I would wish such an ending for Charlie and Marge's holidday though - I prefer happy endings to holidays!

        Many thanks. Alun.

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        Derdriu 6 years ago

        Alun: Here is what may have happened next in "Strangers Home and Abroad": Charlie and Marge returned from holiday. They found the basement of their house flooded to the top of the stairs. All the toilets were overflowing. Their big-screen TVs were missing. There had been a fire in the study. The pantry was bare. Their long-gone neighbor's note read, "Always check references."

        Thank you for sharing your unique mini-storytelling skills, voted up, etc.,

        Derdriu

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        Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks for visiting 2uesday, and for voting in the poll. Some of the stories were easier than others to write; the biggest problem of course, is when you write something you're really proud of - and then you find it's about ten words too long! There were two or three stories I wrote which never got published because it simply proved too difficult to cut any more words out, without the whole piece losing its meaning or its impact.

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        2uesday 6 years ago

        Nice idea for a HubPage, I have written fifty word stories in the past and it is not as easy as it looks. Going to look at them again before I vote.

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        sharon 7 years ago

        sorry that there was option to click for only one favourite I did like the gambler's sin,true intelligence and the faithful companion.Well written It must be hard to get all your thoughts in 50 words.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 7 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks for your nice comments Marie; very sweet!

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        Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        This is great! I've never tried this, but I imagine it's pretty difficult - I tend to be kind of wordy! I'm going to give it a go though. I voted in the poll for True Intelligence? but also really enjoyed The Gambler's Sin, Fun With the Beatles and An Old Fashioned Long Distance Relationship.

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        Greensleeves Hubs 7 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks avid gardener for your comments; it was nice to read them.

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        avid gardener 7 years ago from Florida

        I actually had a few favorites but you can only vote for one. I like the alien,true intelligence, and computer dating. I thought they were all quite good actually. It doesn't take long to get to the point!

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        Greensleeves Hubs 7 years ago from Essex, UK

        Thanks to both Pandoras Box and ahorseback for your kind comments. It's really nice to read them. Thanks.

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        ahorseback 7 years ago

        Greensleeves , love the hub , I like the way you write !

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        Pandoras Box 7 years ago from A Seemingly Chaotic World

        My fave is Strangers Home and Abroad, but the Deadly Encounter was a very close second. What a great writing exercise. You came up with some insightful mini-stories.

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