Of words and limits | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 07, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, May 07, 2021

Talespeople Spiels

Of words and limits

A frequently-asked question during this year's Sehri Tales was 'why the 250-word limit?' My knee-jerk reaction has been to want to snap 'Do you also ask why a limerick has to be five lines, or a haiku three?" Since anger never solved anything, I figured a more level-headed explanation was necessary.

Sehri Tales was created as an exercise in writing discipline. The first part was of course committing to doing this within a narrow window of time every night. The second part was to be conscious of form and the rules of various poetry/micro-fiction formats. I found the challenge of these restrictions very grounding, and it has helped my writing and mental health more times than I can count. That's what I decided to stick to when I made it available to other participants.

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But don't just take my word for it. The standard upper limit for most forms of flash fiction – and let's please not forget that Sehri Tales is essentially a flash fiction contest – is 250 words. You'll find it easier to get published if you stick to that. That's also a good size for college essays, mission statements, book blurbs and elevator pitches, so, those are good writing muscles to build. 

It's easy to rant and ramble while trying to find a story. But if you can distil your idea into a smaller piece, cutting it down to its very essence, that's a powerful writing tool to include in your skillset. Happy writing!


The author is a writer and journalist, and the creator of the annual Sehri Tales creative writing challenge.   

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