This is a quick post connecting to something I just read on the National Writing Project site…a post by Kim Culbertson (follow her on Twitter here!) called: “Small, Bright Things: Using 100-word Stories in the Language Arts Classroom”. Not only did this post remind me of an activity I did with my students, but it inspired me to go back and revise my most recent 100-word story (which I share below). I recommend that you read the original post (linked above), but here is a quick summary of it to help entice you, too.

Kim notes that one of the main benefits of using 100-word stories is that it allows students to “[explore] and [analyze] individual literary elements.” I love one of the quotes she gives from a student to demonstrate this in action as in one of her classes she overheard one student say to another: “you devote 62 words to setting — that leaves almost nothing for all the other stuff!”

It is through the creation and revision and unpacking of 100-word stories that Kim says:

…allows students to explore a structure that holds all of these essential literary elements in an easily digestible package.

Kim culbertson

She also sites other benefits of working with 100-word stories such as:

  • helping students to recognize the same elements in any piece of literature moving forward into longer pieces
  • providing a space for students to focus on individual sentences for word and craft choices (to get to those 100 words)
  • fitting well into a zoom screen (for current online contexts)
  • providing opportunities for quick-write and quick-edits for specific literary elements.

[100 word story] is a site dedicated to this craft and a place where teachers can get examples and students (and teachers) can submit their own creations.

I used 100 words stories as a quick-write activity over the past few years in my classroom, but I never took them further into using them to analyze and develop a students understanding of literary elements. And especially in the current context of both teaching online and needing to slow down and focus in on curriculum, 100-word stories provide a beautiful opportunity to do just that.

Below is a recent revision to a 100-word story I wrote a couple of years ago. Below it is a picture of how the story started (in order to show the process to my students). If I were in the classroom today, I would annotate the most recent version with elements such as POV, suspense, character development, pacing, etc…

The edge had always been there, and now she was finally going to figure out from where. She had always seemed so perfect, invincible even…but something had happened that was altering this perspective. Something was now rippling out to her edges—a softness, a vulnerability. What she was about to find out was not based upon any lies or deception, it just had never needed to be known. Until now that is. As she sat across from her mother, the ripples began to fan out to the edges revealing a past choice that had come to meet the present.


Not only do I thank you for visiting this site and reading my thoughts…but I would love to hear your thoughts and wonderings, too. Please, leave a comment below, email me at readwritemore@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @readwritemore

You can also see more of my writing (along with the writing of some other brilliant and beautiful minds) at MovingWriters.org

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