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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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