Workin’ 95

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

OK, folks, it’s time for one of our favorite annual contests here at the RN&R: The 95-Word Fiction Contest. The idea is to write a miniature short story that’s exactly 95 words long. It’s an exercise in creative writing within limitations—and it predates Twitter. Here, for your illumination, is an example:

Naomi’s job was to keep her children, Sasha and Sam, healthy. She carefully prepared every meal with local organic produce. That got harder once she went back to work, harder when Steve went abroad for two months, harder when she worked all day on a report that needed to be mailed that afternoon, and then, in the car, the kids began to chant: “Hungry! Hungry!” She realized she had no plan for dinner. Up ahead, towering above the road, she saw an arched golden beacon. She turned to the kids, “Don’t tell anyone about this.”

There you go. There have been better stories, sure, but also, I can assure you, worse stories. As an example, it serves—there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, identifiable characters, and a bit of a punchline. Those are some of the things we look for.

We want 95 words, as counted by LibreOffice, Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Please email submissions to and include the subject line “Fiction 2016.” Put each story in the body of an email because we won’t open strange attachments. We require the author’s name, email address and phone number listed above each story. (That stuff won’t count toward your word count, and will be removed before judging.) Titles are acceptable, without affecting word count, but not required.

Stories must be received before 9:01 a.m. on Dec. 14. We’ll publish the best stories and award prizes to the very best. (The prizes might just be bragging rights and your photo and bio published in the paper. Maybe.) Stuck for inspiration? Look at last year’s winners here:

Pro tip: Write it long and then cut it down. It’s easier to trim down to 95 words than to write up to it.

Brad Bynum