As some of you may be aware, I’m pretty pumped about starting this new parallel series on my blog – parallel because it’ll continue alongside other intermittent unrelated blog posts that I’ll keep putting up in between and is not going to be an exclusive continuous series unlike some of my recent ones such as the ‘my favourite poems’ or ‘covid’ themes. This will be more on the lines of the ‘Kaleidoscope’ parallel series that I started earlier this year (long ago!).
But I do plan to be more regular on this series – twice a week to be precise! So without further ado, let me tell you all about it!
’55-word stories’ is a fairly popular concept on the internet since the past 8-10 years or so. ’55-word fiction’ also known as flash fiction, microfiction or nanofiction basically refers to a genre of storytelling that permits only 55 words.
Some trivia – The 55 Fiction contest was created in 1987 by New Times, an alternative weekly in California. It quickly caught on, and created a new genre: “flash fiction.” New Times (and its sister publication, the Santa Maria Sun) now receive a thousand or more entries annually, from around the world.
Originally, the requirement was that it must be a very short story – in prose form – with a beginning, conflict and end. Over time, though, it has evolved to encompass any form of storytelling – poetry or prose – with the only limiting condition being that the story needs to be told in exactly 55 words – not less, not more.
I was introduced to the world of 55-word stories through this blog that is run by a guy named Vivek Tejuja when I contributed to his themes way back in 2012. And somewhere down the line, I became reticent (as I am often known to do!). But recently, I read about microfiction somewhere on Facebook and I immediately knew what I needed to get back to!
So I quickly reached out to a few friends who I know love to write, bounced off this thought with them and I got a fantastic response (thanks, you guys!). And here I am, writing an introductory post for the series.
Once I decided that I’m doing this, I needed a catchy tag for this activity (because I am particular about superficial stuff like that!) and I thought and thought and thought until I finally came up with “5word5” (pronounced “swords“). A couple of lines on why I believe this tag captures the essence of this activity for me:
– Words and Sword are made up of the same letters!
– They are often pitted against each other (“The pen is mightier than the sword”)
– Cryptic words can cut like swords and microfiction is by default….well, cryptic!
– I thought “5word5” i.e. replacing the Ss with the 5s of 55 was rather creative and it made me feel proud and clever for being able to come up with it!! Some narcissism never killed anyone! 😉
– And then when I was researching on this theme, I came across this quote on google images
That did it for me – because until then, I was uncomfortable with the idea that swords only harm while words are meant to heal and therefore a catchword of “5word5” for my word-themed activity may be counter-intuitive. But I liked the association of swords with protection in this quote and that’s when I decided that I am going ahead with it!
With that background, introducing you all officially to 5word5, a bi-weekly series on my blog! Here’s how it’ll work –
– On Tuesdays and Fridays every week, I’ll post a word on my blog which will serve as a prompt or a theme to inspire some microfiction! I invite all of you, my dear readers, to send in your 55 word stories on that theme within two days (so for the Tuesday theme, you can send in your entries to me by Thursday nights and for Friday’s theme, by Monday night).
– Consequently, on Fridays and Tuesdays, I will post all of your 55 word stories on the latest theme along with my own submission as well!
Some rules now:
- Of course, your story needs to have exactly 55 words, so please do a word count before submitting them!
- The word is just a prompt or a theme and you are not necessarily required to use the word as such in your story. You could use variations of the word or its synonyms or your interpretation of the word. As long as your overall story has some linkage, whether expressed or implied, to the word prompt.
- You can write in poem or prose format.
- The story can be closed-ended or open-ended….as in you can leave the ending explicit or to the reader’s interpretation.
- There may or may not be characters in your story…..it could be a story about an event or about things or about relationships, your observations on life linked to the word prompt….anything really!
- You can send in your submissions to me directly through the “Contact” form on my blog and it’ll directly come to my mailbox. Alternatively, if you have my phone number, you can whatsapp it to me (I’m not putting up my phone number on the blog for obvious reasons!)
- If you would like to include an image or video or gif along with your story, you are free to include the same but such attachments without an actual 55 word story will not be considered a valid entry!
- In case you miss the submission deadline and I have already posted the stories for a theme, feel free to add your story in the comments section!
- When you send me your 55 word story, please include the name by which you want me to publish it on my blog. This could be your full name, pet name, twitter handle, instagram handle or any other pseudonym you may want to use if, for any reason, you want to keep your submission anonymous (thought I would appreciate if you told ME who you are)!
- If I find that your story is miles away from the theme I may reach out to you to understand if I’m missing something!
- Just to make it clear, the decision to publish or not to publish your story on my blog rests entirely with me. I am usually a reasonable person so rest assured that I won’t NOT publish your submission without reason. However, if your story is highly controversial, vulgar, sexist/casteist/racist or discriminatory in any other way, defamatory to a real person/event, clearly plagiarised or in any other way legally or morally compromised, I may decide not to publish it and will inform you about the same.
- Also, just to clarify, this is not a contest and there are no prizes!!!
Phew! That’s out of the way! I am really looking forward to getting started on this and I hope at least some of you share my excitement! Do feel free to let other writing enthusiasts in your circles know and feel free to spread the word on your social media handles using the hashtags #5word5withslo or #55wordstorieswithslo.
I will be kick-starting the series by posting the first word on 01st December 2020 i.e. coming Tuesday. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, for the next three days, I’ll post some of my past 55-word stories for you to read and ruminate on!
They hadn’t eaten since three days. The water cup was empty but their seed bowls were untouched. Pari had been thinking about it all night. It was difficult but she had to do it. She hesitated for a moment, then opened the door to the cage. They gleefully flew out happy to be free again!
She added to his joys, reduced his sorrows, multiplied his responsibilities and shared them too. When they were with each other, they didn’t need anyone else. When they weren’t with each other, it didn’t much matter whoever else they were with. Their equation was what all couples shared and yet it felt unique and special!
Disha was at the proverbial crossroads of her life! Science, Commerce, Humanities? Medicine, Engineering, Business, Jounalism? Choices, choices everywhere! And the difficult part – she had to make them herself! Having always followed instructions, Now was time to pick her paths and navigate her life! No compass, no GPS. She was the captain of her ship!