I just finished a great book by George Saunders called 'A Swim in a Pond in the Rain'. In it, he shares 7 short stories from select Russian authors: Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol and then breaks down how they achieve certain effects or reactions in the reader. I was very impressed and learnt a lot that I can apply to both my reviewing of short fiction and my writing of it.
But, in the appendices, he shares 3 writing exercises. I thought I would select one of them to complete with a writing friend I'm meeting up with tomorrow and it's driving me INSANE. I'm really struggling to do it.
The exercise, we'll call it 200 in 50, involves writing a 200-word story using just 50 words. So for example, if your first sentence is: "She sat in the kitchen where it was coolest" you then have those 9 words to re-use. Once you've written 50 words you cannot use anything else beyond those 50.
I thought that sounded perfectly doable. Turns out it's really f******g hard.
I've not yet found a good way to approach it so it will be interesting to hear how my friend got on tomorrow.