Hint Fiction

hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story

A few years ago, my stepdad gifted me a year long subscription to Writer’s Digest for Christmas. Usually every issue has a contest called Your Story. In this contest the magazine asks for a quick story of 25 words or less related to an image they post and a handful of winners get posted every issue.

I used to submit to this contest, quickly typing out a fun story and pressing send, hoping that one day my little sentence would make it into the magazine. What I didn’t know was that I was actually writing hint fiction.

Trying to get into the practice of writing more, I signed up for a writing class through the Lawrence Arts Center. Through this class I’ve learned a couple different handy writing tricks and exercises.

Here is one of the exercises we did with hint fiction…

In my writing class we started with a theme: Visitor. Then we were instructed to write down eight memories from that theme. From that list, we picked out one memory and expanded on that through a series of questions the teacher read aloud. After that, we did a free write for about five minutes. Then, we condensed this into a series of 25 word mini stories.

Personally, I like to just dive right in but I can appreciate the process of gathering ideas and then really honing them in.

Hint fiction can be fun to play around with and these short stories can be surprising humorous, thought provoking, and impactful.

Want to hear some? Below is a link to my favorite podcast, Modern Love. Modern Love is a column in the New York Times that focuses on love stories of all kinds. I love to read their stories and listen to the Modern Love Podcast when I can. This particular episode is focused on 13 word stories voiced by the writers themselves. It’s a great, short listen that I highly recommend.


Stay tuned for weekly writing exercises, tips, and tricks on A Few Simple Words.


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