If you viewed my Four-Sentence Stories Workshop with QuaranCon 2022, you might have seen me get a bit nervous a few times, but I kept going and taught the class mostly as I meant to.
If you haven't seen it yet, it's here:
Either way, I thought I could reiterate some of the points of the class briefly here and add in a few extra writing prompts if you are interested.
What are 4-Sentence Stories?
- Exactly what they say they are: stories in four sentences.
- Part poetic brevity, part fiction, these stories force focused word choices.
- Always include a character, a problem, and an ending/hint of resolution
- Yes, this can be done.
- Yes, they can be fun to write.
Why write 4-Sentence Stories?
- Explore characters
- Explore ideas
- Fill the creative well
- Play with words
- Focus on sensory words, active verbs, or another area you want to work on.
Example of a 4-Sentence Story:
What happens if you don't follow the 4-Sentence Format EXACTLY?
Writing Prompts to Use:
- Put your character in a white room and show what they do there.
- Put your character at the edge of a cliff, top of a castle tower, underwater, trapped in a spacesuit that’s running out of oxygen and show what they do there.
- Take away the sense of sight and make your character rely on sound, smell, taste, or touch for the duration of a four-sentence story. (This forces a focus on writing other sensory description.)
- Take a character you already know and put them in a weird or impossible situation. Dump Athena into a modern fast-food chain and see what she does.
- Something came over the horizon.
Questions to ask yourself after writing the story:
- What did I learn about this character?
- What did I learn about this character's dilemma?
- What did I learn about the ending/hint of resolution in this story.
What can I do with a four-sentence story?
- Query them. There are markets for four-sentence stories, markets for hint fiction, and markets for micro-fiction.
- It is true that most of these markets are non-paying markets, but you can build up your writing resume and your ability to query by starting with these.
- Use them in a newsletter as a free giveaway.
- Use them at an author table as a free giveaway.
- Collect them and print them in a collection.