Short Short Stories Competition: Write and Publish Very Short Stories


The winner of our short short stories competition is David M. Harris for his story, "Love". Currently, we are no longer accepting new story submissions.

Below, you'll find advice on writing very short stories. Click here for more story-writing help.

Click here for story-writing prompts and ideas.


Can you write a story in less than 300 words?

Writing very short stories has special challenges. You have only a few words to introduce your characters and situation and make something happen. Pulling off this form can be like performing a magic trick of the kind where a tiny box seems to contain much more than could possibly fit inside.

Tips on writing short short stories

These are not rules -- only some suggestions that might help you.

1) Start late in the story. Let's say you're writing a 300-word horror story about a guy who dies in an alligator attack during his honeymoon. There's probably not time to show the wedding ceremony, the reception, the plane ride to Florida with his new wife snuggling sleepily against his shoulder... Instead, you might want to open with the man walking hand-in-hand into the swamp with his new wife, an avid bird-watcher, who is hoping for snapshots of a rare Florida egret. Considering starting just before the story climax, the most exciting point in the story (the alligator attack, in this case), so that you'll have time to do it justice.

2) Stay focused. In 300 words, there is no space for anything that isn't essential to the story you're telling. If our alligator attack story were a novel instead, you might take some time out to tell the reader some interesting history of Everglades National Park, to give some background about the birds the soon-to-be-widow is trying to capture with her camera -- or about the species of alligator that's trying to capture her unfortunate husband on its teeth. When you're writing very short stories, you can't afford scenic detours -- you have to stick to the path (as our unfortunate hero should have done).

3) Choose the right details. If you want to create the effect of a detailed picture but don't have room for a lot of details, the trick is to choose the right ones. Choose details that suggest the rest. The fact that our doomed hero's hotel room has a king-sized bed, two dressers, a desk, and a desk chair doesn't paint a mental picture of any specific place. A burnt-out fluorescent ceiling light does -- this is not the Ritz. An ugly hotel hotel room and an alligator attack -- our poor hero!

The best way to learn about writing very short stories is by reading them. You'll find large collection of examples and resources on Jim Harrington's Flash Fiction website.

Stories by other writers

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Rain Spattered Bicycle and Other Very Short Stories 
The initial pain was gone as well as my cell phone, the fourteen year old and the knife he used to slash my arm. The other passengers waiting on the subway …

The Parasites Saga Part 1 
John stopped at the wall panting like a dog, he knew that he couldn't double back or the parasites would get him. John remembered when the leeches first …

Noise 
I know that I'm alone in my room. I know that I am alone in the world. Being alone I am not afraid of. But being alone doesnt mean that I don't know what's …

Fowl Play 
A. J. Meier was eighty when he shot his last goose. By then his eyesight was indistinct, and his aim susceptible to inadvertent dips. The goose was …

The Encounter 
I'm walking through a forest. The only sound is the crackling of dry branches and leaves beneath my feet. It hasn't rained for days. The wildlife around …

See You There 
She lay on her bed, the pictures taken out of their albums spread out around her. His shirt in her arms, It just wasn’t the same. She needed to feel his …

Helping Out 
Amy was miked, so I could hear every word of the conversation through the headphones. In spite of her bravado earlier the tremor in her voice was apparent. …

Lightning 
The little child looked up, a sudden blast of lightning hit his face so hard, and painful that he screamed in terror, as it nearly tore his head to the …

Julianne 
"Hello, Julianne?" It's a familiar voice on my phone. "It's Alexander. I hope you still remember me." How wouldn't I? Without him, I would never …

A Story About- 
Rummaging through the pockets of his coat for a cigarette as he stepped onto the now deserted streets of Uncertainville, his brows pulled together in annoyance …

Sammy the Lost Bunny (a Children's Story) 
Sammy the bunny was a very friendly little animal, who liked to play with special friends. He had one particular friend,named Nicholas. One day Sammy was …

Young Merit 
She stood there at the age of ten, staring at this feeble old man. He was leaning on a cane,looking for something. He was very old,and needed her help. …

A Man in Need 
It was the Christmas of 1939 and I had just been let go. I carried myself down O'Connell street but I succumbed to the pressure. There I lay, outside the …

The Dark 
The fear was all he felt. He cringed from the sting of the slap, and the swing of the alcohol. Why would someone do this to him? He’d known Jared for …

A Ship to Nowhere  
They woke at dawn from their sleep. The man, tired and unmotivated, rolled over to meet his lover's gaze. She was a lovely young woman, recently out …

The Historical Woods 
ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A WOODCUTTER NAMED SANJAY. HE USED TO CUT TREES AT A PLACE NAMED HISTORICAL WOODS. HISTORICAL WOODS WAS A REMOTE PLACE, SITUATED …

When Love Takes Hold of You 
When you are in a relationship with someone, you think that it's going to last forever, that nothing can get in the way between you and your partner. One …

Prom 
Everyone looks forward to prom. Even I did, the tomboy who all the guys knew and all the girls looked down upon. It was a magical night. I arrived about …

Serving the Notice 
I knock on the door; my heartbeat is racing. Sweat pouring from my face down to my drawers. This is the first time coming to this residence. I'm waiting …

Elephant's Breath 
There was an elephant breathing in her bedroom. She could almost feel the warmth, enveloping her bare body on the covers. A fine mist formed on her …

Stranger 
It is a dark, foggy night. I can hear the sound of instruments playing far away in the Tea House. She would be there now, singing. Her rich, deep voice …

A Dream Land of Passion 
Jeffrey Don Cabos is the only son of Don Cabos the owner of Simony oil wells. Handsome is so little a word to describe this magnificent, outrageous and …

Just Another Client 
Sitting in the back of a yellow cab, Julie looked at the address on the crumpled piece of paper. She knew it by heart. She’d known it her whole life. …

Walking Shoes 
The soap was oval and translucent, the type her grandparents had her use and the smell alone made her feel pure. Well, maybe not pure but at least clean. …

Orange Juice 
It happened almost a month ago, but it still feels like ten minutes ago. Is that too cliché? We were sitting across from each other in a dirty diner with …

Tonight 
Regina's breathing returned to normal as she felt her body slowly melt out of the trance. She wiped the sweat off her forehead, pen still clutched in …

Two Monsters Down 
"One to go," I muttered, kicking the foul demonic corpse as I pulled my blade free from its eye. I frowned at the extra-dimensional experimental physicists …

The New Client 
After an exhausting flight the last thing Carol was in the mood for was finding out the midsize coupe she reserved was not to be. Carol was miserable by …

Love  
One of the things I hate about this town is the VFW hall. It's where there is to go, and everyone goes there. The same damn people all the time, with the …

Sittin' In the Window 
Sitting in the large, second story window was the best vantage point on the whole campus. From there everyone could be seen driving in and out—not to mention …

Stolen 
Honk! “Crap!” I curse, swerving to miss the thoughtless pedestrian. I left in such a hurry. I am so ticked at that jerk! How dare he! After all I …

One Last Fight 
Blood dripping from my nose. I faintly hear the voice of my screaming coach, "Come on Johny, you gotta keep 'em hands up! You gotta keep 'em up! And watch …

Day Trip To Heaven  
Full of trepidation and excitement, the day has finally arrived in which I am going on a day trip to heaven. The year is 2091 and I am a professional …

Bounty 
Slowly the coyote crept along the brush trying to stay hidden from his prey just feet away. Each step calculated carefully not to make a sound. Each paw …

The Never Ending Vampires 
Vampires are everywhere and there is no escape at all. So we get together and try to come up with a way out. All the while they are circling us all bloody …

The Busy Life of Mark Whopeburg 
It was raining heavily when Mark called Nikita . He had to tell Nikita not to walk the ramp for Anushka Mitra. After two days there was the meeting of …

Dead 
I seem to be able to see my body. I see myself. Laying there, so still. I am dead. People always wonder what death feels like. And now I know. It's peaceful …

The Wolf and Other Very Short Stories 
I shouldn't have stopped to watch him. I let him see me, but I couldn't look away. He glided soundlessly out of the cover of the trees. Huge, the grey …

Wait for Dark and Other Very Short Stories 
She decided to climb. To climb Mount Everest. Everyone thought that she couldn't do it. She began her preparations 3 months in advance. Going to the gym …

The Secret Killer. 
CRACK! The flaming hot bullet hit Jenna Harrison in the back of her head. Her head was pushed forward from the impact of the bullet as the gunman shoved …

Toxic Gunk in Washington D.C. and Other Very Short Stories 
I once had a dream. It was the worst nightmare. I thought it was real when I woke up. I was at the beach with my parents but then a scar (a tornado) swept …

Ghost of the Auto Mechanic and Other Very Short Stories 
It all started with that man... His long, slithering, sword-like tongue stuck out as a weapon, dripping blood as he walked. His tall silhouette was shaped …

Cranford 
During the 1960s I worked as a Police Constable in Scotland. One morning at the start of my shift I was detailed to accompany a member of the CID to a …

Ghost Hunting and Other Very Short Stories 
The garage door opened and Sherry could not help but look straight ahead. There was that busy body neighbour Mr. Kells. She hoped he would continue watering …

Secrets Can Be Deadly and Other Very Short Stories 
Death of a loved one knows no manners and cares not whether you are prepared for arrival. Makes no announcement, requires no invitation. Just drops in …

Why I Did It and Other Short Stories 
I cut a giant chunk off my hair because it was getting in the way of my fun. I woke up on a December morning in the middle of the scorching summer in my …

Mysteries Are Not Always Solved 
Arnold walked through the door. Despite the building's apparent age this door (unlike all the others) opened without the expected creak or the "old cobweb …

Expletive 
Your life is meaningless; you are a slave to currency, and everything you own will burn. This world is temporary and every day you spend in it is one more …

Boxer 
He was the best. The fastest, strongest, and smartest in the ring. When he stepped between the ropes and into the center of the ring, he owned it. It was …

Follow the Rules 
The noise of all the slot machines was music to the ears of Theo Ray. Theo could be seen four to five days a week at the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, …

Fate 
Coy clutched the Little Lotto ticket tight in his right hand as he said a silent prayer to the God up in the heavens. Coy had reached almost total despair. …

Veteran Cop 
Sgt. Mickey Kady had worked for the Boxertown police department for 29 years and now he was seriously contemplating retirement. Sgt. Kady had intended …

My Grandmother's Key 
Part One: "I wonder what it's for?" I ask myself looking at a key that my grandmother gave me. She said it'll solve all my problems. How is a key …

Product of Neglect 
Lying here next to you, all I can think is that I can't wait for you to leave. I press myself against the warmth of your back and lay a gentle kiss on …

The Edges of Things 
The painted lake stretches before us as the sun sinks, slow and heavy. A thick violet sky quivers at the seam where Heaven and Earth meet. This gentle …

The Wolf Shadow 
The shadows never frightened Livy, but now she was unsure. They had a sinister sway to them, like they were aiming for the death blow. One night, when …

Her Flight Was Brief and Other Short Stories 
Alone. The word circulated around his head, and above all else, seemed to stick there. He suddenly felt it hit him like a sack of bricks; the loneliness, …

Neurotic Wrath 
Lydia stared into the mirror. "It is done." She smiled an evil smile. "I have taken her place". The plastic surgeon had said for her not to do this as …

The Pencil 
It was firmly stuck to his fingers. He opened his hand and spread his fingers until only it contacted a single finger. But it was still holding fast. He …

Colleague 
He met her while commuting home from the job hunt. His white shirt was pulled out loose from the pants to let in some cool air while he watched the fast …

Unexpected 
She closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep. She was about to drift off to sleep when he suddenly jolted awake beside her. She didn’t react. Instead she …

Innocence Lost 
His hands are on my breasts, the ones I got last year. His fingers unbuttoning my blouse. His lips on my skin, sucking, kissing. Passionately, no room …

Old Friends 
In an annual gathering of old friends, the seven continents laughed and reminisced happily about the days of Pangaea; a time where they were the closest …

Minnie's Summer Adventure 
Minnie was coming back from her pal Dee's house when she found kittens in grandpa and grandma's barn. She'd been here a whole week with nothing but bike …

Our Parents Their Parents 
'Get out of my house,' shouted Rahul's mother. Rahul was so tired from swimming that he slept and did not have his lunch. When he woke up it was quite …

A Friendly Affair 
Rahul had been going to the swimming pool since March 2011. Everyday he used to swim and search for someone with whom he could talk. His major problem …

Statistics 
He couldn’t stand it when she cried. It was too painful. All he could do was hold her. Try to soothe her. Love her. She was Clare, but she was incomplete. …

The Fish Out of the Water 
“What’s that?” Tommy asked, jabbing his little pointer finger at something silver on the shore. “That, little Tommy, is a fish out of the water.” I …

Past Packages and Now 
Why must it always come back to this? Every morning I wake up, make coffee, and get the paper. But when I step outside, I see no paper, but a package. …

The Mystery of a Bride's Murder 
There was no dearth of happiness in the Yashbardhan family as the eldest daughter of the family Nita was going to be married to business tycoon Yashbindar …

Fantasy in a mirror 
"When I looked in the mirror, I didn't expect..." As I arose from my slumber, I felt a little melancholy. After watching one of my favorite fantasy …

A Saturday Morning  
The pen taps on the desk, waiting for my answer as the blank paper looms before me. The clock faintly ticks as I scramble to read over the next paragraph. …

One More Time 
Years, angry yelling, the blame game, carve parenthesis around her mouth, an angry N between her eyes, marring a once youthful face. Male heads turn, whistles …

The Last Scene 
My sister, brother, and I are Filipinos. My father had died of lung cancer and my mother was left alone to take care of us. Sure, she got help from her …

In the Dark 
The thundering rain showered itself on the car. It glided at a great speed but a rhythmic pace on the empty road. I looked at him, my mind full of thoughts. …

Roses in the Hospital 
With shaking hands, I placed the needle back in its sheath, feeling my body temperature decrease as the chills of what I had just done caught up with me. …

The Man Who Has Seen Past 
Rahul was coming back from office. Today an interesting thing happened as he met his old school friend Shibani who was his sweetheart when he was in class …

Crisis in Japan 
Some boys were playing near the seashore in Tokyo. Suddenly some people who went fishing in the seashore came back. Their trawlers were missing from the …

The Wedding  
My cousin Rahul got married last Sunday. He married a Marwari girl and the ceremony was held in the largest hall of the town. Rahul's aunt i.e. my mother …

The Lord of 64 Squares 
Tamit was leading in the State Chess Championship and was on the verge of winning the Championship when his uncle called him from Secundrabad and said …

Unreadable 
The Legend read: "Here lived humankind. She was born as an angel, shone like wildfire and burned herself". And in the endless wilderness of that silent …

Love in Deathbed 
Samantha,Nikita and Farhan were staying near the hospital in Kabul. They had come to Afganistan as reporters of CNBC. One day, Samantha was interviewing …

The Tsunami Effect 
It was during the Tsunami of 2004 that Latifa and Harshad met each other. They were doing a project work in Port Blair under the auspices of Dr.Rangarajan …

The Ritual 
On nights like this, when the calm hangs over the city like a broken promise, and the deep silence has fenced our lives with its inescapable routine, I …

Elephant War 
*Beep Beep* goes off the alarm exactly at 4 a.m. every morning. The usual routine consists of brushing teeth, brushing hair, brushing dog, get dressed …

Drinks, Dunks and Sticks 
Duncan is a rock. Well, he seems like a rock; but when you get to know him, you may decide he's a rock-shaped lump of Blutack. Every day he puts the …

The Verdant Proposal 
Picking it from a nearby bush, Tyrese handed her a white rose. “I want you to know that this white rose symbolizes the purity of love I’ve had for you. …

Good Whiskey 
The Wintu people lived around the site of the town of Redding for thousands of years. When the white men came, the Wintu tried to co-exist, but it was …

Sign In Please 
My wife and I are at a party as guests of the President of the United States and The First Lady. They are standing at one end of a massive ballroom, in …

One Frightening New Orleans Night  
The evening was so blissful; we never expected that this would be the most frightening and harrowing night of our lives. It was the spring of 2004, a …

One Last Time  
I can smell the wood. Those remarkable pine trees that separate us from the rest of the world, the ones that hide my bitter torment, masquerade my lies …

A True Wifey Affair 
Rajat an assistant commissioner of income -tax used to drink heavily. Whe talks of his marriage was going on there was no mention of his drinking problem. …

The Art of Living 
Rashid was very upset.His company has terminated him and his 6 year long beau Sujata dumped him for a rich Marwari tycoon. In the cold night in Bangalore …

love 
love is some feeling at times one cannot express..Though he was with me my mind would say."this man doesn't know to love.."Time will show its meaning.. …

Here Comes Butchie 
Here comes Butchie. "Whatcha doing?" he says. "Nothin'." "Got a nickel?" "No. You?" Butchie shakes his head. He says, "If we could get …

The Last Time I Saw Charlie 
"You know when was the last time I really felt good? It was when I was drinking hard, and smoking two packs a day, and running around with loose women, …

A Morning With Callie 
Callie the Calico sleeps peacefully and purrs softly as she dreams of chasing mice until the alarm clock rudely awakes her. She yawns and stretches …



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