Seriously? An expectation to write strong stories in less than 100 words? I’ve been bamboozled by this conundrum. Less than 500 words is formidable because there was at least some room to slap together an exposition that the reader can hold onto and appreciate, but less than 100 means all you can have in a story is a small arrangement of actions between characters that are so flat that they might as well be classified as two-dimensional.
Many 100 word stories try to expand their characters by trying them into symbols. While I can appreciate the effort being made to expand these characters, 100 words can still leave extreme amounts of variability when it comes to the interpretation of what those symbols are supposed to mean. Yes, a reader can figure out that a spider, bear, or snake is supposed to be the antagonist, but finding the details to derive the conflict with that antagonist becomes an annoyance. Is the antagonist supposed to represent a rapist, war, genocide, a paper cut, or maybe even you accidentally spilling your coffee on yourself right before you leave home to go to work? The expansion becomes so broad that any deeper meaning the author attempted to weave into their words becomes lost in a sea of vagueness.
It’s not that I hate the idea of short stories, but rather I hate the tools that get taken away with over the top constraints. In a similar sense: it would be cool if I could grow an entire cornfield with just one seed, but that idea does not work in practice. I can’t say I understand why my classmates are so enthralled with this idea, but if its their cup of tea I guess they can appreciate it. I will be writing my fiction in as many words as it takes to make the writing compelling. Fiction creates an open canvas that no other type of writing can quite compare to, and that open canvas creates infinite possibility for any writer to communicate the world they want to represent. However, keeping stories too short is like cutting a 1 inch square section out of that canvas and trying to use only that fraction of the canvas to create a world. Sure, you can use any part of the canvas you want, but the final product will always be of lesser quality than if you decided to go ahead and utilize the whole canvas.