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The short short story

Words. Some rights reserved (CC 2.0 BY-SA-NC) by LMP+A friend and I recently were talking about the art of the short story, and we segued into flash fiction. This is the concept of being able to tell a story of substantial depth and meaning with minimal words.

A few examples, of course, are the poignant six-word story attributed to Hemingway (“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn”) or two-sentence scary stories (“I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first I thought it was coming from the window, then I heard it come from the mirror again.”[1])

These types of stories are quite popular, with all sorts of competitions and fora for folks to submit their own short stories. With that in mind, my friend and I started considering how we might tell the story of people and situations we knew about, but in 7-word stories. (We like to be a little bit different!)

Some of what we came up with at our first go:

  • “He walked away from being walked on.”
  • “Scarred, she lived/loved joyfully, hopefully, faithfully.”
  • “Seeds: growth potential awaiting the right time.”
  • “Poetry’s words express and confine one’s soul.”
  • “Fearlessly delve into the language of love.”

And then we went Advent with it. We opted to challenge ourselves with how to tell a biblical message of the season that captured the depth of meaning in lexical brevity. Here’s a few:

  • “Preparing for the Word: a lifelong challenge.”
  • “Impatiently, she practiced the discipline of waiting.”
  • “Eminent, and Imminent, and Immanent: Our Emmanuel!”
  • Or, to quote a recent viral video (some have called prophetic and relevant to John the Baptist: “Love is the Answer! Stop buyin’ stuff!”

You may like the idea, you may prefer to use more words to attempt articulation. I tend to be wordy, obviously: as such, an exercise like this can help me focus my thoughts and edit my first efforts. With strict limits, each word carries significant weight and is loaded with meaning: every word counts. The message needs to be concise yet clear. It’s a challenge, and it’s fun.

And so I pass this fun challenge along to you, dear readers! How would you share the Good News in super-short format? For Advent, for Christmas, for life?

[1] anonymously submitted to

About Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I’m a high-energy priest, now serving in the Diocese of Niagara, catching glimpses of the kingdom in daily life. I consider church to be a verb, and I’m passionate about prayer, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee.

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3 Responses to The short short story

  1. Christ is coming: we prepare and rejoice.

  2. God yearns to come in. Say yes?

  3. I was reading the Bible – cover to cover and it was all quite interesting until I came across Mark 14:51:

    “A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth. They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.”

    Mark was the soul of brevity, and this seemed such an innocuous sentence during such a tumultuous period that it suddenly all became very real.

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