I have always been interested in the concept of very very short stories. I recently found out the official name for that style of writing. It’s called Flash Fiction.
There is no formal definition of flash fiction, but as a rule of thumb, any piece of writing less than 1,000 words falls into this category. There are also various sub-categories of this form of writing, many of them based on the specific number of words allowed in the story.
One such sub-type is called the 69er story. No, it’s not what your dirty mind is thinking. It’s a story that is exactly 69 words long – no more, no less. Two more technical details: the title is excluded from the word count and hyphenated compound words (such as blue-green or two-thirds) are counted as multiple words rather than a single word.
I wrote my first 69er story about two weeks back after completing a Creative Writing Workshop I attended. It’s quite an interesting writing exercise. The writing technique required is very technical since you need to focus on a single concept whilst carefully selecting your sentence structure and grammar and being very vigilant about the word count.
For my story, I thought up the concept and then wrote the story in as terse a manner as I could. It ended up around 95 words. I thought wow, that’s quite a lot of trimming I need to do. So I edited and reworked, welding sentences together, removing clauses and extra adjectives. In the end I got it to just under 69 – around 65 words. Then I tweaked a little here and there, added an extra adjective and increased the pace of the story towards the end using some short sentences. Eventually I hit my 69 word count exactly.
So here then is my first 69er story:
The beast thrashed violently against the metal chains that held him down. He could feel them giving way, the encasing concrete crumbling and shearing against his powerful blows. Soon he would be free of this dark, dank dungeon. Soon he would rise, rise and exact vengeance against the pathetic creatures that ruled above. Soon they would fear him. Soon. Very soon now. Alan screwed up his face and farted.