A Very Short Story Contest—2017

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 eight finalists:


A cobra tattoo covers your first girlfriend’s name almost completely.

Linda Schwartz
New York, NY


She delivered the baby, and then her water broke next.

Gabrielle Frank
New York, NY

Too late, he realized wooden spoons are not suitable weapons.

Maddy Conroy
Albany, NY

He stared at her with anticipation. Therefore, he’s failed already.

Xzavier Harris
Bossier City, LA

Comfortable coffin for sale. I only used it briefly.

Greg Beatty
Bellingham, WA

He wraps fairy tales into sentences. She fixes the grammar.

Chelsea Toder
New York, NY

Seeking friend. Strictly platonic. Meet tonight. Moving tomorrow.

ML Walker
San Diego, CA

It wasn’t the blade she feared. It was the handle.

Destiny Maldonado
Brooklyn, NY

Taco sale. Ten for one dollar. Bathrooms closed.

Mary Merlo
Troy, MI