79 Word Stories

So a new formal challenge emerges.  Tipped off by Duotrope, I stumbled on this interesting competition sponsored by the Aspen Writers Foundatino and Esquire magazine: A short short story of exactly 79 words, judged 25% plot, 25% characterization, 25% theme and 25% originality.  Why not, right?  I mean many of us compose 100-word stories (rarely EXACTLY 100, but) for Madison Woods “Friday Fictioneers” photo-prompts…so why not give 79 a shot, eh?  So as a little side project over the next month or so I’ll be delivering various aborted attempts…I’d love feedback, but they’ll probably keep appearing anyway!  Thanks all.

1. A 79-word story in 78 words

             I slipped there, on my way out.  I cried.

Someone held me, shaping me thus.  That’s what I heard, but never quite believed.  So they told me other things, and showed me pictures.  It began to sound like music, that I’d made.  I played.  And continued to study.  Soon it was all words and experience and me stumbling away.  Or sailing back, on rough waters with a rowdy entourage, and fear.  And love.  In either direction, I’m here.

N Filbert 2012

Dismantling the Art(s)

Interviewing Correspondence (-ts)


Composing letters is good exercise for writing.  Imagined audience and relation, fitting language to a function with a purpose.


Dear WordPress Users:

                        I regret to inform you.  I’d like to congratulate you.  It has come to our attention.  In the matter regarding.  Allow me to introduce myself.

            The address sets a tone.  There is little to waste.  Readers can be lost in a matter of moments, of letters, of marks.

Sex.  Hate.  Cookies.  Pups.  Nudity.  Self-loathing or injuries sustained.  Rants.  Cuss.  Sexual organs.  Deviant tastes or behaviors.  Righteousness.

            These terms as keywords capture the bulk of contemporary humanity.  Money, sugar, self-sustenance/survival/success, fame.  Beauty, distress, the hideous, tragedy and laughs work as well.  Also superlatives.  And challenges.

You’ve never seen a _____ this size!  Fires burn out of control, lives lost…  Wowza! She’s got _____!!   You have no idea _____!  Did you ever imagine _____ could be so good?!

            Direct-ion.  Scan billboards and headlines, logos and slogans – these things are devised to capture attention, activate interest.  Use imagery and images – somehow we’ve evolved into a very visual culture – we taste, hear, touch and listen – with our eyes!  Watch a video with the sound turned off.  Gaze at some pictures of food.  Read poems.  I challenge you (smiley-face) – what are you unable to sense…just using your eyes?  (Whatever it is will cause you to act).

Action works.  Activate.  Stimulate.  Request.  Invite.  Offer.  Command.  Insult.

You really have no concept of what you’re doing here, do you?  I mean, reading this?  Hoping for some pleasurable payoff of insight or delight!  Something succulent or soothing, entertaining or erotic, secrets or solutions.  You selfish bastards!  Give a little!  It’s all ‘what’s in it for ME!?’  Sucking the world dry like these pages…

            Give people something to find that they’ll consider “wrong” – people LOVE to feel “right.”  Scapegoating works well – and it can be anything – people will follow: bottled water, big government, Christianity, children, homosexuals, genres, stupidity…the lemmings will leap.


Dear WordPress Users:

            I regret to inform you that the following letters are not art. 

“Works of art represent webs of sounds, movements and ideas… Human beings are contradictory… Freedom is the law of human nature…At the basis of every artistic work, every stage in artistic construction, lie similar principles of revealing the contradictions… artistic compositions show the fallacy of simple solutions… one can do anything, but there is no purpose…”

(all Viktor Shklovsky, from “On the Dissimilarity of the Similar”)

            Dear WordPress Users:

I urge you: exercise freedom and complexity!

Utilize everything!


da Man-O’-Word(s)