500-Word Short Story!

Five hundred word short story!

Last month's writing exercise on thelitforum was to write a story!

"For this challenge, the goal is to compose a complete short story (500 words or less) over the course of 5 weeks... Each week, you’ll be given six, randomly-generated prompt words, five of which are to be incorporated into that week’s submission of your story... For each week’s submission, you can only add a maximum of 100 words, which includes the prompt words.

The story structure of what to generate with the prompt words each week is as follows:

Week 1: Intro of setting/characters/inciting incident
Week 2: Act I – Rising action, development of conflict
Week 3: Act II – Twists and Reversals
Week 4: Act III – Climax and resolution
Week 5: Denouement

As you can see, this challenge incorporates tight word-count editing and storytelling, as well as flexibility (might be forced to think outside of the box to incorporate the prompts)."

Here are the prompts we had to use:

Week 1 prompts: excessive, existing, eyes, confident, alternate, boast
Week 2 Prompts: flip, phantom, grateful, judgement, dove, arch
Week 3 Prompts: finite, pick, application, forgotten, convertible, hidden
Week 4 Prompts: comfortable, endless, powerful, aimless, fork, belly
Week 5 prompts: appear, awkward, web, rival, bridge, bomb

And here's my story, based on the epilogue of Captive of the Sea (set in the 15th Century), which features newlyweds Mawdlen and Santiago, at an inn with family and friends...

Week 1: Act I – Intro of setting/characters/inciting incident
103 words; 5/6 prompts; Mawdlen's pov
The captain sounded a foghorn of snores, masking the rustling as she rose and tiptoed to Santiago’s bed. She hadn't been confident he'd also been lying awake, and was reassured when she saw his eyes in the brazier’s light.
She crawled to his uninjured side. Once all was silent under Kirk's excessive cacophony, she traced Santiago's cut.
"Doesn't hurt," he boasted, then admitted, “arm is sore."
She reached across, and Santiago kissed her cheek. She turned, and his mouth claimed hers, and she forgot all about his bandages.
Should've added coals to the existing ones. It’s going to be a deliciously long night.
Week 2: Act I – Rising action, development of conflict
109 words; 6/6 prompts; Mawdlen's pov
Santiago undid her laces, and a dove of fear flipped in her belly. “Should we wait?"
"No need." He glanced pointedly beyond the bed-curtain arch, to the phantom shape of Kirk sawing away. "But we’ll need to..." With his sound arm, he shifted her to lie atop him.
If not for the duel, he'd be hale. They might’ve sought a more private nook.
Yet if he hadn't duelled, her parents wouldn’t be safe.
She was grateful, and trusted his judgement. It was pitch dark, and Da’s snores mingled with Kirk's, loud enough to mask any rustling from their bed.
But this was not how she’d imagined starting married life.
Week 3: Act II – Twists and Reversals
88 words; 6/6 prompts; Santiago's pov
He'd forgotten the cake.
"Let's leave.”
Magdalena stood, and he heaved himself up and found his cloak.
With a finite snort, the men ceased snoring.
Quickly, he opened the door, and they scuttled out.
They discovered the perfect hidden alcove upstairs.
Convertible, too, from bare hole to cosy spot – with a wider application – once he'd stolen cushions from a nearby bench.
They snuggled in and he picked out from his cloak pocket the gift he'd gotten earlier. He placed it on her lap and unwrapped the cloth.
"Wedding cake!"
Week 4: Act III – Climax and resolution
89 words; 6/6 prompts; Mawdlen's pov
Comfortable, belly full of cake, she leaned back in Santiago's arms and nibbled stray crumbs off her finger. The night was endless, and safer than it had been for a while. She was glad to be free of Lady Amethyst's forked tongue for once and all.
She dabbed an aimless finger at the napkin, seeking further sweetness. Santiago's hand came over hers, and he raised their linked hands to his mouth, licked a dab of icing off her forefinger.
A powerful need shot through her from top to toe.
Week 5: Denouement
111 words; 5/6 prompts (but I swapped fireworks for bomb); Mawdlen's pov
All those nights she'd lain awake, wishing he'd appear...
No longer a maiden in a cobwebbed castle, she was bound to her knight. It wasn't the town that mattered, nor the land, sea or bridge, but his claim on her, the demands of his body–and hers.
They came together with quiet fireworks, though her heart's pounding might wake all the inn. She cried out at the last, as did Santiago, before their mouths met in a kiss.
Afterwards, lying in his arms, rival reality intruded; they must return before dawn.
"I love you, my wife."
The inn was temporary, she realised; true reality was their future, together. "I love you."

What's the shortest story you've ever written?


Hi Deniz - great fun ... and I really enjoyed your short story ... and do hope there's more for them, and from you for a longer take on their lives. Stay safe - Hilary
Cockeyed Jo said…
I miss writing sooo much! I used to love those exercises.
Jeff said…
Nice. And such an interesting way to construct a short story. It would be helpful to me for I am better at writing non-fiction than fiction.

Deniz Bevan said…
Thank you!

Glad you liked it, Hilary!

Come back, Jo! :-)

Please come join us, Jeff! Non-fiction is fine, too, we have a couple of writers of memoirs with us.