Watch me fit the Hemingway Challenge, the lengths of different types of fiction, and several prompts in one post.
First, you have to understand what the Hemingway Challenge is. Hemingway reportedly considered his finest work to be his shortest: only one sentence. A friend once challenged him to write an entire story in six words. After much thinking, Hemingway came up with this response:
For sale: Baby shoes, never used.
Over on the Holy Worlds fantasy forums, there is a thread for writers to try their own pens at this challenge. It’s been open a couple weeks, and two authors have been unanimously declared on par with Hemingway.
One revolver. Six bullets. Seven enemies.
I am the President’s orphaned daughter.
Take these slowly. There’s one problem with six-worded masterpieces; they’re over so quickly.
Bet you think the prompt is to write something for the Hemingway Challenge, don’t you? Well, it is certainly challenging and will make you think in new ways, but my actual prompt is to take one of the three above sentences/stories and turn them into a longer piece of fiction. After all, there is so much more (and yet nothing else) to tell!
This is where the lengths of different types of fiction come in. My chart is by no means an indisputable table, but it at least very close to any definitions you will find.
Twitter Fiction: 150 character limit
Flash Fiction or Vignette: Under 1,000 words (presumably over 150 characters)
Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000 words
Novel: Over 40,000 words
These six-worded stories are already “Twitter Fiction.” Don’t use the actual sentences, just be inspired by them. First, write something under 1,000 words, telling more of the story. If you’re still interested, create a whole new tale off those six words the size of a short story. It would be fantastic if you found inspiration for a novelette or larger, but I won’t ask you to go quite that far.
For my part, I’m using “I am the President’s orphaned daughter” because I’m feeling morbid today. (That’s a joke. I like political thrillers.) Do you dare take my challenge?
OK, that didn’t come out right. Prompts are rarely scary.