100-Word Novels

There’s writing and there’s pruning. Both benefit from practice.

Here’s a pruning exercise to hone your valuation of words. Tell a story in exactly one hundred words. You can condense a novel (Les Miserables!), render some portion of a larger story, or make it up. Just give it enough arc to satisfy the reader and use one hundred words.

I’m fond of using Bible stories because every nuance is crucial — I take great care to not violate the meaning of the text. Here’s my attempt at The Good Samaritan. Try it yourself, then compare our efforts against the original (from The Holy Bible, King James Version, Luke 10:30-37):

The Neighbor

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. They stripped, wounded, and left him half dead.

By chance there came a certain priest that way. When he saw him he passed by on the other side.

Likewise a Levite looked and passed by.

But a certain Samaritan, when he saw him, had compassion. He bound up his wounds, set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn, and cared for him. On the morrow he gave two pence to the host. “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, I will repay.”