It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that ran fewer than ten words. One version of the story places the bet at the famed Algonquin round table. Whether true or not, there is an actual bet-winning short story attributed to Hemingway:
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
You have to admit it's pretty good. It builds, and there's a whole world of background and emotion lurking beneath those words.
We made a similar bet with our audience. Write a great short story in ten words or fewer. (You may use a title or not, but the title goes into the word count.) Winner gets a free Gotham class.
Here we present the winner and nine finalists:
Underwear—check. Fake passport—check. House key—left behind.
He came home in an envelope. Name, rank, serial number.
East Troy, Wisconsin
School bus. Plenty of seats. No place to sit.
The ultrasound technician hesitated, frowning. “Let me get the doctor.”
Potatoes in his exhaust pipe. Beware of those you betray.
Neutral Bay, Australia
Her hijab. Her cross. They became one. An unexpected couple.
New York, New York
She picked up her dull scissors and wrote.
Rain came. The children scattered. And again God was alone.
Young, they sang together.
Old, she sang, so he’d remember.
“Mom, we smell pot.”
Cough. “Out in a sec.”
Columbia, South Carolina