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50-Word Mini-Stories: A Creative Writing Exercise

Updated on October 28, 2016
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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

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Yours Truly.
Yours Truly.

N.B: Please note, all my articles are best read on desktops and laptops

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 scouring 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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All My Other Pages ...

I have written articles on many subjects including science and history, politics and philosophy, film reviews and travel guides, as well as poems and stories. All can be accessed by clicking on my name at the top of this page

© 2011 Greensleeves Hubs

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    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 2 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.

      http://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

    • profile image

      Felipe 2 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 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!

    • profile image

      Felipe 3 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.

    • profile image

      Raeee 18 months ago

      Aliens does not have to be ugly...

      Humans = racism

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 20 months 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

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 20 months 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 21 months ago from Essex, UK

      EsJam; Appreciated, Alun

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

    • EsJam profile image

      Essie 21 months ago from Southern California

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

    • profile image

      ra 2 years ago

      I loved the 50 word and the beatles mania one

      thnx

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 3 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

    • slowpokevoyager profile image

      Roger Decker 3 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 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.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 3 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • profile image

      Angelina 3 years ago

      Thank you for the great content!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 4 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.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 4 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 4 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

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 4 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 5 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.

    • TeddyAldo profile image

      TeddyAldo 5 years ago from Massachusetts

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

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 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:)

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

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

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 5 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.

      :-)

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 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

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 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.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 5 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

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 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.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 5 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.

    • profile image

      sharon 5 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
      Author

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

      Thanks for your nice comments Marie; very sweet!

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      Marie Landry 5 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.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • avid gardener profile image

      avid gardener 6 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!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image
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      Greensleeves Hubs 6 years ago from Essex, UK

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

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 6 years ago

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

    • Pandoras Box profile image

      Pandoras Box 6 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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