Recently, to celebrate the shortest day of the year, our CEO Valerie Khoo asked our community (via our weekly newsletter) to create a 23-word short story that had to contain the words WINTER, WRITER and SILHOUETTE. That was the only rule.
The challenge certainly struck a chord! We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received – HUNDREDS. (And yes, we read them all!) It was fascinating to see what different stories emerged with only 20 other words of your own to choose from. As a writer, this simple exercise helps your creative brain to flex.
Many (many!) stories had a very similar feel. A writer’s silhouette at the snowy window, or words to that effect. It’s easy to reach for that image in your mind. However, others found more original ways to tell their stories. We hope that by seeing this selection of submissions (still fewer than 10% of those we received), you’ll discover new approaches that you could add to your own writing. Enjoy!
The silhouette of death arose from the unfinished book.
“Get back in there” the writer said, there's been too much discontent this winter!
I am merely a silhouette of a writer – just an outline. Maybe because it's winter. With spring, the sentences might start to bud.
Theoretically, winter brought the writer closer to perfection, but darkness brought long menacing days. Concentration became a silhouette, unobtainable, moving further away. Gone!
Their weary silhouettes slumbered back to back under the blanket.
The writer had imagined many happy endings but life took over.
A silhouette against frosty panes, writer stands, caressing pen with aching winter hands. Pages beckon, may your drying ink soon on us land.
Winter morning. The heating blasts on. The rush of warm air wakes the curtains. Silhouettes of furniture start to dance. The writer groans.
Words were the silhouette of her dreams. Like a warm shawl the writer would wrap them around herself, to ward off the winter.
Hemingway would have scoffed; declaring ‘twenty-three words' – somewhat soft.
For Ernest, six would have been enough.
FOR SALE. WRITER'S WINTER SILHOUETTE. IN[K]VISIBLE.
Peering inside the mind of a writer. Thoughts emerge like the silhouette of a tree, bathed in winter sun. Voices whisper their story.
My boss' silhouette is unfriendly. Frosty enough it could be winter in there. I enter anyway. “I quit” I say. “I'm a writer.”
Silhouettes of winter branches heralded the first keystroke. A canopy of blooms welcomed the last. The writer in her smiled. She was done.
The winter had crept in under the door, slid across the linoleum, wrapped around her feet. She continued tapping. A silhouette. A writer.
Squinting at his silhouette in the winter sun, hearing “I was never going to stay, I'm a travel writer” shattered my teenage heart.
“Aye aye Captain.”
The rope landed on deck. “Thwack”.
“Goodbye Winter”, the writer hailed the dock, before he faded to silhouette.
Wrapped in layers of words, bundled up in ideas, skating across polished phrases, the writer huddles within her winter silhouette awaiting the thaw.
One wild winter's night a winsome writer saw her sexy silhouette in a moonlit mirror and perfectly perceived the poignant plot within.
Winter held onto the night, a prized possession slipping. The sun poised ready, the new writer menacing. She was the silhouette in between.
River Rouge, Saffron, Winter, Tango, Silhouette, Citrino.
Who is the writer of these paint charts?
Haven't they heard of white, grey, blue etc?
It's years since my steamy winter with the writer, but I recognise his silhouette. Shaking, I tap his shoulder; he turns. Not him.
The oncoming headlights cut through the icy winter fog. Without warning the silhouette of a rhinoceros appeared. The writer smiled, a story formed.
A would-be writer he hoarded all scribbles. This letter too. The familiar silhouette of the loopy handwriting poured winter on my heart.
The winter of my past is gone, and the silhouettes that haunted me are fading. I am the sole writer of my future.
Daybreak. Crisp air. Bare branches an intricate silhouette against the winter sky. Solstice moonlight bathes the writer as she settles at her desk.
The winter season's silhouette flummoxed the fashion writer. Postmodern experimentation or environmental montage? Frustrated, she zipped up her pink shell suit and left.
Detested silhouette in the doorway. Mrs Winter again. Snarling, Where's my rent? The writer's head explodes. Knife. Mightier than the pen. He lunges.
Pre-dawn and the story resembles a mere silhouette. A gift comes; the winter sunrise. Colour explodes, clarity, and the writer's words flow. Progress.
Winter is not kind to humanity. The silhouette of death looms over the living, like a writer about to cross out a word.
The writer wakes, horrified by the silhouette of an intruder on a dark winter night. The eyes adjust, fear not the coat rack.
A hunched silhouette
Pen gripped tightly
The writer crafts
Her work nightly
Hours are lost
As she creates
Stories of winter.
Once a great writer, she rages at the silhouette of the word she cannot read.
Thus is the long winter of her disconnect.
Her posture lent her the look of a seasoned writer, a languid curve in her silhouette. Winter had not touched her, yet.
Winter snow fell softly. The silhouette of a lonely writer glided across the frozen lake, plunged through a crack and disappeared, without words.
Shifting leaves, colour bled. Winter. The writer propped on puffed pillow. Watching. Apricot tree – silhouette bones. Tight arthritic fingers. Pageless unwritten words.
A winter blast whisks the wordless page from her hand, its silhouette stark against the brine below. The writer's frustration follows it down.
Ice. Wind. Stolen light. The hallmarks of winter serve as inspiration to a writer. Somewhere, a couple embraces. They share warmth. A silhouette.
The writer's son knew he shouldn't surf alone. Blinded by the winter's early morning mist, he didn't notice the large silhouette approaching below.
The writer's favourite park lay white under frost. Winter had burned her silhouette across the once splendid green lawn. “Cold feet,” he muttered.
I nurtured this writer; gave him food, money and my bed. Then, a momentary silhouette against a pale winter sky, wordlessly he left.
Carol Ann Martin
Winter. Hail. Wind screaming. A roaring southern ocean. I run. A black silhouette whimpering like a puppy. A writer must have her coffee.
My winter, your summer. I picture you there, phone in hand, balancing tea-pure silhouette of love.
Good news, finally a writer.
A note on the table.
“I'm leaving, winter does not suit this writer. Remember only my silhouette, for it's all I gave you.”