Announcing The First Annual John Shore 10-Word Short Story Contest

I just know this guy's entry will be too long

[Update: Bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard is now helping to judge this contest.]

Recently I spotted this for-sale ad on Craigslist: “Nike Triax c3 heart rate monitor and watch, used one time only.”

Which of course brought to mind Hemingway’s famous six-word story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Thinking I can’t be the only person who digs this sort of novel-in-a-nutshell, I am now herein and forthwith announcing The First Annual John Shore 10-Word Short Story Contest. The rules to this contest are as follows:

As a comment to this post, submit a story consisting of no more than 10 (ten, diez, X) words.

Submit as many stories as you like or think you can get away before other people would wish you’d stop already.

The best of the submitted short stories will be chosen by a panel of illustrious literary illuminati consisting primarily, exclusively and peremptorily of me.

The author of the mega-short story deemed the best will win an autographed and inscribed copy of the near-bestselling book I co-authored, Comma Sense: A FUNdemental Guide to Punctuation (which Lynn Truss, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, called “a clear, entertaining, and just plain helpful guide to the American rules of punctuation”).

More than one story may be named winner, though I’m so sure.

All stories must be submitted by midnight, September 30, 2009. Winner(s) will be announced on the morning of Friday, October 2, 2045 09

Good luck. And don’t forget the motto of  The John Shore 10-Word Short Story Contest: Achieving attentiveness through anal retentiveness.

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    “Fire!” screamed the commandant. But, as planned, everyone “missed.”

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    My God! Our alien hosts are fattening us for slaughter!

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    He slipped on the ice in summer, died in winter.

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    God loves me so much His Son died for me!

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  • Wait! Are we competing against John? Cause that’s just unfair if we are. I kinda think all un-short story entry thingies should be longer than 10 words, just so we can identify them .

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    The sun beats down. No rain falls. Earth shrivels away.

  • You are not competing against me. I just wanted to chime in there to show that I was reading them–and then I thought it’d be cute if I SAID that in 10 words. But, no: If it’s from me, it doesn’t count.

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  • (Correcting a typo from my earlier post):

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    John Shore sent you a message.

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  • Yowzer! This has turned into a serious collection of REALLY good 10-word stories. You know, I'm thinking of putting out a call for a JUDGE or two to help me out.

    Anyway. Awesome. Some of these are just golden.

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    Beautiful gift, sold to enemy. broken. purchased back. repaired.

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    Bob the builder, childhood icon or satanic cult leader?

    Stumbling on the village of pigmies, I plotted my revenge.

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    An abrupt guide to Himalayan yodelling.

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    Adventures in governance: Monkey see, monkey do.

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    Adventuring in phonics land, the letter Z felt ignored.

    Nude golfing, I realised my aptitudes were best used putting.

    Slowly, realisation dawned. Leprosy and macramé just don’t mix.

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    The family got together again, causing laughter and tears.

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    Easter bunny stew was not appreciated by the kids …

    The singer lacked talent, but he compensated in volume.

  • (Okay, um … for what it's worth, I imagined I'd get in, like, maybe 30 of these. MAYBE. I had no idea my readers were such … well, writers. And freaks—but that's really a whole other concern. Now.)

    Hey, I like that fourth one–the Valentine's Day one. You old softy.

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    Once I adjusted, life as a zombie isn't that bad.

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    I told him not to cut the blue one first!

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  • Trapped by the avalanche, I finally rued bringing the trombone.

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    Others, I bark like a dog.

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    By the third take, the TV preacher wept convincingly.

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    He helped his enemy. God smiled. Enemy finds the Lord.

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    "He has adenocarcinoma of unknown primary. It's everywhere." The End.

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    God created me, you and all to live forever…end..

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    I'm loving Nathan's multiple storgasms. Does that mean I'm gay?

  • Yes.

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    Who poisoned deviled eggs at the picnic? Sadly, the detective.

    Munching malformed mushrooms made Mary's May merry.

    We boarded the ship unaware of the trap. Ten, nine …

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    Located the Fountain of Youth. Contact Juan Ponce de Leon.

    Tears were upon her face, like they always belonged there.

    A smile, a quick look, shy eyes- love happened! Wedding bells.

  • Dad snapped, "Don't be ridiculous! There's nothing under the …" Sluuurrrp!

  • Tasting flesh, the wombat thought, “No more herbivore!”

  • Mimic the cat eventually resigned from trafficking in human slaves.

  • Bloodied, I stumbling from the pygmy village, plotting revenge.

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    He plans to live forever. So far so good.

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  • The duck waddled contentedly from the corpse. “Revenge IS sweet”.

  • After three margaritas, the Stepford wives decided their husbands must die.

  • Succinctness is the brevity of wit.

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    Her headstone read, "I told you I was sick."

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    Once, at church, Dad cried; my eight-year reality shifted.

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    He rode the bus home from his dear wife's funeral.

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  • Cheryl

    "You from around here?"

    Randall turned. "Not yet, Sir."

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    Wished I could do that. “Wish I could,” I’d say.

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  • Morning came, she took her last leave of the river.

  • Cheryl

    Wartime? He'd loved it — the deathclose ecstasy. They both had.

  • Sandra

    Fall returned again, pugently awash in color, spice and regret.

  • Sonn Dixon

    – The worst happened, and that is how my life ended.

    – Everyday starts the same. I open my eyes and stare.

    – Each hello was sadder than one thousand loved one's goodbyes.

  • Sonn Dixon

    Five fingers? I really have no need for my pinky.

  • Mark Lattimore

    "Stop being obsequious!"

    "Your wish is my command."

  • Mark Lattimore

    "Stop being obsequious!"


    (The Sequel)

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  • Skeleton in bar: "Bring me a beer and a mop."

  • "You cackle like an old hen," Max told his chicken.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Glorious morning,endless possibilities. A quandry, stay put , open door.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    To hope,desire,satisfy my own. Freedom is my life.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Wind blowing,crisp evening. I can feel my soul bating.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Smells of home made bread baking,heaven is altered reality.

  • Jesus was a great sales man. Want to know how?

  • He didn’t see a doctor because he didn’t have insurance.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Bashing his head in was her crowning achievement.

  • John sent Kerri a book. And cash. The end.

  • Latoya

    Oh God. Some of these stories have me rolling with laughter!!! (this isnt an entry)

  • Martin T.

    I am alone…

    I want love…

    I will wait – patiently.

  • Martin T.

    I must live.

    I must give.

    I will live well.

  • First breath, the Flight of Life, Spirit singing beyond time…..

  • In the midst of the mayhem, a butterfly paused, hovering.

  • Who would reckon a simple touch could heal so deeply?

  • James McNeil

    “How hard can it be?” he asked, his eyes gleaming.

  • “OK, I admit it! I wrote the Book of Love!”

  • In space, nobody can hear you scream. Or break wind.

  • Enemies approached. James regretted beating his sword into a ploughshare.

  • John swung his golf club and hit his ball. Ouch!

  • “How do you keep your readers in suspense?”

    “Well, you…”

  • “Again! Again! Hee hee.” Sticky fingers stretching out; Elmo winces.

  • Note to self: land mines and kindergartens don’t mix well.

  • Gary Sather

    Back from the moon so soon? Thanks for the cheese!

  • “I will never tire,” thought Dennis, “of my own writing.”

  • jrc

    He lived on. Then he died to be with her.

  • Gary Sather

    Well, if it’s not water, what is it? You OK?

  • He was born into poverty, but that was not all!

  • To look at her face, you’d never know she’d gone.

  • If he couldn’t behave better, then why did he apologize?

  • “No! Prorate the expenses!” screamed Randy, updating the chimpanzee’s spreadsheet.

  • Tim

    I was a bad boy.

  • Suzy Amis Haines

    Thirteen was a dangerous year. Woodstock, Viet Nam, first love, heartbreak.

  • Bruce, the angel, referred to himself as stooped not fallen.

  • Martin T.

    I wondered out loud, “What gives?”

    Then I woke up…

  • Martin T.

    Just ten words – but saying what?

    Eternity in a nutshell.

  • Pretensions and contentious? Whom Moi’? Au contraire!

  • Maurice and the amazing dancing rodents rocked the leper colony.

  • From Light they once came, to the Earth they returned…

  • Cheetah stealthily doped Jane’s Martini, “Now Tarzan will be mine!”

  • John,

    Do !, ; ‘’ or ? count towards the 10 word limit?

  • Judy

    Continuing to live seemed impossible. Dying was not an option.

    The girl known as Pinky began dancing to the uilleann pipes.

    The 6 limbed alien pitched horseshoes like a professional.

    Martin was so shocked he dropped his martini overboard.

    Foster lived in the attic with his iguana and ferret.

    Climbing the willow tree wasn’t as easy as Sarah said.

    Standing on the rooftop, Lillie longed to fly.

  • Practice, practice, practice. A contest, a winner! Fame and fortune.

  • then they all jump off the roof and fly.

  • Bruce

    The nude model shivered; he draped a blanket around her.

  • Jane plotted to stuff Cheetah, turning him into a lawn ornament.

  • Every coffin has a silver lining. Sometimes it’s actually lead.

  • calapitter

    "If only…", she thought, "he might not have killed himself."

  • S Peters

    Nathan: Stop, already. I don't think there's a prize for quantity.

  • jrc

    He wrote his five ten word stories. Then stopped forever.

  • Hah! Good one. NATHAN.

  • Latoya

    Leave Nathan alone, He has found his passion! Plus he's quite entertaining..and scary

  • Really? That's such a sweet way of looking at it, Latoya! But you're young and live in Jamaica. It's all sunshine, mangoes, and cavorting dolphins to you. Let's take a vote!

    Readers: Do you think Nathan (of whom, let me say, I am terribly fond) should now stop submitting 10-word short stories? Or do you think he should keep on going until his hands seize up on him and/or he finally gets fired from is job?

    In your response, right "@Nathan" so we'll know it's not a story entry—and then share with us your opinion on this terribly critical question.

  • Latoya

    @Nathan. If they wanted to restrict you they should have made that rule from the beginning. Plus, what if your 100th story would have been the winner and you stop at 99?

  • @Nathan. Keep going, dude!

  • In youth they married. Her death was his life's end.

  • Oh my God. You people are bazoinkers.

  • Life. Busy emptiness, smoke, a pointless vapour. Existence without meaning.

  • Morning came. New hope, long denied to them, arose unbidden.

  • Okay, BARRY'S vote on whether or not anyone should QUIT submitting so many stories officially doesn't count.

    What am I going to do with you people?

  • Cheryl

    @Nathan: Keep going if you want to. They're funny!

  • Shortest Blues song ever: "I didn't wake up this morning."

  • He lived for his job. Retiring, he discovered his family.

  • @John: I think you've created a monster you cannot control!

  • Bruce Donaldson

    He twittered so eloquently she thought he must be French.

  • Beatrice’s murder spree began with a clear goal: Olympic gold!

  • Maurice always harboured a secret curiosity, “How did nuns taste?”

  • John created a monster. It turned and bit his hand.

  • "Moo! Baa! Cluck!" said the cow – world's first bovine linguist.

  • Little Timmy often wondered, “Why don’t Penguins grow on trees?”

  • Maurice preferred his nuns without relish. It was a habit.

  • On the horns of a dilemma, he looked to God.

  • Timmy habitually lost fingers in the blender, other kid’s fingers.

  • Signore Schedarossa winked, "This green card gives me carte blanche!"

  • Latoya

    LOL@ Bruce. Barry: I think you have become monster number two

  • @ I kinda think the top story submitters should get a book just for submitting so many. And you totally can’t limit us now, cause we’ve already submitted a bunch and thats not fair and in the article you did say that rule applies for next year. if you find certain people’s submissions excessive (Nathan) then by all means… submit more of yours. haha.

  • Time was reversed. Death became far more enjoyable than birth.

  • As a solipsist, she knew she would never be outnumbered.

  • "House of Ontology," read the sign. "Come in and be."

  • Guys,

    Don't worry about the rule change – I'm gonna lay off posting for a while (even though I've got this whole rift of tales from the zombie apocalypse worked up). Mostly because I finished the discussion paper on local government reform in Western Australia yesterday, up until then the sheer boredom of the topic had been my muse. Somehow I became the resident expert on the issue – bad karma I suspect (possibly I killed Mother Teresa in a past life).

    My final entry will be a summary of the 80 page discussion paper:

    No reform in WA in 100 years. Need some now.

    So, goodbye, so long, and thanks for all the fish. (Yeah – also only 10 words…I've gotta find some other way to procrastinate!)

  • Ahh… it's like the end of an era.

    (Hey, wait. There wasn't any rule change!)

  • RogerC

    Dear Dad,

    Borrowed the car for evening. Sleep well.


  • OK, back from being gone. So what happened with the Multiple Entries vote?

    Not much, I see. But the Eyes have it!

    Carry on, all! (Including you, Dennis, if you’re reading.) Submit away!

  • Rebeka Newbold

    The universe unfolds, every story is it’s own.

  • Sandy Anderson

    I should have married Mozart: he'd be alive today, composing.

  • Sandy Anderson

    The jury convicted Mother. Now I'm free to kill again.

  • Wasted words wandering wine-dark seas — then, a signal from shore!

  • Given direct orders from a superior being, Dennis humbly submitted.

  • Latoya

    Dennis you are hilarious! LOL! (Not an entry)

  • George was thrilled. The golden treasure chest contained canned Spam!

  • When we part, you're the best secret going on….

    Sun:Sprinkling bright whites, laughing, without pain.

    Now alone on a cosmic wink, not color, not ink!

  • onemansbeliefs

    Doing His work thither. Waiting to hear, “Come up hither.”

  • Jennifer Newbold

    The alien in my belly returned to the unknown.

  • uh oh. John knows how to copy and paste. Hey! … what I say on facebook, stays on facebook! Sheesh!

    Although, I think I'm kinda famous now…. so never mind. Ew… can we use a different word than 'juicing'? it just screams icky. 🙂

  • John, Dennis and Latoya were hanging out together when suddenly–

  • Grapes…oranges…pomegranates…infuse me, enthuse me, juicy muse! (…Steroids…?)

  • Richard Lubbers

    That’s the trigger. Please don’t pu Whoa! Jesus?

  • Cathy

    He said, “Though you have dealt treacherously with me, Return!”

  • Withered corpses, corruptly inspired, rise, RISE, smacking their pocked lips.

  • Latoya

    John, when will this contest end???

  • Oh, Latoya. Must you continue to prove to me that you never actually READ my posts?

    I had such hope for you.

  • Tim

    Trying to open a vein, I popped and flew away.

  • Tim

    Far author who art a heathen, Hollywood be thy name.

  • Latoya

    Hey! You JUST added the due date! Its so unfair that I cant actually prove that even if it’s true. [-(

  • And yet we have the below, lifted off my FB page on MONDAY.

    Latoya, Latoya, Latoya. I just don’t know anymore…

    Casey Oliver there’s a 127 responses on your contest… and it’s still open for 10 more days. You live dangerously. haha

    Mon at 7:30pm · Comment · Like / Unlike · View Feedback (3)Hide Feedback (3) · See Wall-to-Wall

  • Latoya

    DId i tell you that I dont like you anymore? Just in case i didnt, I dont like you anymore

  • She said “I don’t like you anymore.” Passions were ignited!

  • Now, Layotya, you can’t hate everyone who proves you wrong. I think we can all agree that for you that would be an especially burdensome approach to life.

  • Jennifer: EW!!! (But intriguing!)

  • Latoya

    LOL! John, I disint even mention the word hate. Hate is a very strong word. Plus my hubby proves me wrong more than anyone else and I wove him soooo much 🙂 And please dont spoil my name sir, thank you very much.

    Dennis, you are really juicing everything for ideas. LOL

  • Yeah, Dennis: Quit juicing everything.

  • Unwed Mozart, the great decomposer, leads the ghastly undead parade.

  • Samantha

    EmAaRrTsH. Two worlds collide.

  • Samantha

    He yelled. She yelled. Then darkness. 'Bang!' Who shot who?

  • Gary Sather

    He placed the help wanted ad, then called the coroner.

  • Gary Sather

    Healthcare Reform. Second only to laughter, the real best medicine.

  • Samantha

    Goldilocks arrived. Slup, crash, zzz. Then the bears came home.

  • Samantha

    *Spelling error on last post.

    Goldilocks arrived. Slurp, crash, zzz. Then the bears came home.

  • Samantha

    Red! Orange! Yellow! Green! Blue! Indigo! Violet! The rainbow created.

  • She lifted her suitcase, dropped the burning match, and left.

  • Josh Magill

    Born. Missed father! Joined Air Force. Married, had seven. Cancer – died.

  • From the sky the answer to all rained limpid. Jazzercise!

  • The witch who had all the mirrors covered was surprised.

  • Wanna know why I don't date hippos, cockroaches and eggs?

  • Suzy Amis Haines

    Thirteen. A dangerous year. Woodstock, Viet Nam, first love, heartbreak.

  • Testing one two three…

  • Let's see if this takes this time:

    Paradise. Family. Betrayal. Sadness. Exodus. Wondering. Sanctuary. Rebirth. Return. Healing.

  • He stood ready with the sniper rifle. school was out.

  • Adult dancer seeks communications director: must have Congressional office experience.

  • joehurrycreations

    We must feed the sky kitten. Think quickly!

  • Stacy Chaplin

    Mango ideas Squeak In an interesting way

  • A dear friend passed, our tears flow as does love….

  • I think it is important to update the all-too-common tale that pushes specific gender roles, sexual orientation and common misconceptions.


    The knight completed the rescue.

    “You killed George!” Princess wept.


    Help wanted: ‘Save princess from dragon! *female champions preferred.


    Save Queen from dragon! Apply within (gay knights only).


    Princess had to choose. Frankly, she knew the dragon better.


    Princess had to choose. Dragon smirked. Yeah, Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Bright lights,loathing wilted magazines next to dingy worn chairs.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Dust on the window sill as the door creaked open.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Drops of rain on her face,it blended with tears.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    She flicked the dog hairs off her wool coat nonchalantly.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Her heart felt colder than the ice on the wipers.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Flaws like toes,were many ,as she disrobed casually.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Giggles from the room filled the spaces of her soul.

  • Adam Roger Kearley

    The prologue, the beginning, the middle, the end. The epilogue.

  • Diagnosis: conception improbable. I heard: opportunity to foster the broken.

  • He entered dirty, alone: "Hi mama." Hi baby. Welcome home.

  • Sixteen: scared he'd notice my blushing. Hoped desperately he would.

  • Zach Stewart

    Life's work on sale; Cheap. Cannot sustain any further production.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Chances were few,the gun was locked and loaded.

  • Kimberly Onufrock-Br

    Gingerly she fingered the scarf, then pulling tight, color drained.

  • Wanted: Strict Vegan Chef

    Peanuts Prohibited

    fowl forbidden

    hours flexible.

  • I placed her child in her arms and drove away.

  • The father he never knew wants custody. Felony charges. Impossible.

  • Patti

    Patience is a matter of time.

  • Patti

    The mirror that was you.

  • if he loved her truly, then why did he hurt her so.

  • if god is merciful then why do people have to die?

  • Chris: Good, but STOP. You're too late.

  • an angel getting rejected caused the forest fires in california.

  • John Edwards

    The man drove away as the town burned behind him

  • She was my best friend until she stole my husband.

  • Wei-hsin

    She left without any desire.

  • Wei-hsin: I LOVE this one! If it had come in on time (I am sorry, but the contest is now closed), I might have picked this one as the winner.

  • At two he was terrible, at sixty-two much worse.

  • BigBob

    “The Pen is BLUE!”, shouted Wendel. Francklin’s rebuttle “Hell Naw!”

  • Kevin Gibbons

    Well, goodbye then. (Read: I love you)

  • derek

    Trillions of worlds, infinite lives, and God is with me.