55-Word Story for Narrative Writing Course

timer Asked: Oct 4th, 2015

Question description

Write a 55-word story that contains a full narrative arc. Your first sentence should have ten words; your second sentence should have nine words; your third sentence should have eight words, and so on, until your final sentence, which should be one word. It's a challenge! You may use a character that you created in a previous writing exercise for this class, or you may create a new character.

First, plan out your narrative arc, asking yourself "What if?" It's helpful to think in terms of a small unit of time: the time it takes for water to boil, to walk to the store, to take a bus, and so forth. Try to avoid surprise or trick endings, and instead aim for a resonant, implied ending.

It's recommended that you write the numbers vertically on a piece of paper, or even write the correct number of blank spaces to fill in. If, after a valiant attempt, you are having a really hard time, it's OK to drop the 10–to–1 aspect of this exercise, and just write a 55-word story that uses the full narrative arc.

Student examples:

Example #1:

"Why are we having tuna? You know I hate it."

She put the two plates down on the table. "I didn't, why haven't you mentioned it before?"

"I always have, you just never listen."

Suddenly she realizes that it's true. She never listens to him. And she never has.

Not until now.

She cries.


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