Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

hint fiction

I’m thinking
about writing this book review
in the form of hint
fiction pieces.


If you don’t know
what hint fiction is,
it’s a story that reads like a poem
because it’s told in twenty-five words
or less.


I’m liking where this is going,
so I’m going to keep doing it —
until, or unless, I look
when I’m done and hate it.


The book I’m reviewing,
Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer,
shows writers how less can be
so much more.

Where Does Hint Fiction Come From?

We all know
Ernest Hemingway’s famous,
shortest story:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Many say this is the birth
of sudden and hint fiction.


Robert Swartwood and Natalie McNabb
compiled this anthology that I was assigned
in both undergrad and grad school.
My professor taught a tiny text class.


This book is filled with
examples of dark, deep stories
that seem easy to write,
but are complicated and take
an entire class to learn.


What I loved most about reading
this anthology
is that we’re forced to sacrifice
words to get to true meaning.

Only what matters is left.


It teaches writers how to
choose words carefully, and
to think about the emotional
aspect of stories to create meaning
with no room for excess.


Hint fiction can be poetic
through the use of line breaks
and spaces.
Let’s look at an example…


This is one of the many stories
in the anthology
that really made me think of fiction
as something more
than words on the page.


Reading and writing these pieces
makes me feel like a poet.
Look at all the blank space between
the title and story.


I especially love writing hint fiction
or sudden fiction, whichever you prefer,
when I have writer’s block.
Use restrictions to free yourself.


Notice in the previous example
how there are more than twenty-five words
including the title.
Use this to your advantage!


I’ve learned through hint fiction
to make meaningful titles that show
the reader exactly what they’re getting

even though I still suck at titles.

Some More Examples

Let’s take a quick break
to look at some more examples
of hint fiction!



When you hold the book in your hands,
the light green cover
and small size are inviting,
but deceiving.


Each story packs such a huge punch.
The book plays with space, font size,
and with our perceptions of what a story is.

The Takeaway

What I’ve taken away from
Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer
is that titles are important.


I’ve also learned Hemingway was on to something
in terms of simplicity.
There’s no need for excess in stories
with strong enough plots.


Fiction can be poetic.
The way we think of fiction is limiting,
and hint fiction opens up possibilities —
despite the twenty-five word limit.


I find myself constantly revising
each of these sections, simplifying
sentences and changing meaning
to make my point stronger.

This mindset transfers to longer stories.


April Reading List

If you haven’t checked out this month’s reading list, I recommend you do. I’ll be posting another review in the near future on one of those books if you want to know more about them.


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