The Masters Review Blog

May 6

Hint Fiction: Six Stories to Read in Under a Minute

In celebration of Short Story Month, we are studying fiction in all forms and sizes. People often bemoan the fact that stories are getting shorter and shorter. But fewer words does not necessarily mean less impact. The first week of our Short Story Showcase focuses on hint fiction, stories of twenty-five words or less. Hint fiction can carry a mighty heft. These miniscule tales are craftily distilled. They “hint” at larger stories. On Friday, we will feature an interview with Robert Swartwood, who coined the term back in ’09 with his essay “Hint Fiction: When Flash Becomes Just Too Flashy.” Until then, here are a few hint-fiction stories for your reading pleasure. They may take less than a minute to read, but they will stay in your mind all day.

hint fiction

We love Sherman Alexie’s brief, but devastating story “The Human Comedy,” featured as part of Narrative’s six-word stories series.

Wigleaf published a selection of stories by authors who were published in Norton’s Hint Fiction anthology, among them: “I Know Things about the Girls Next Door”  by Roxane Gay.

Nanoism publishes twitter-fiction (stories of 140 characters or less) online. Its collection includes many pieces of hint fiction, such as this one by Michael Jagunic.

Lydia Davis was writing flash before it was flash and hint fiction far before the term was invented. Check out her hint pieces “Honoring the Subjunctive” and “Losing Memory” in this collection of her stories on NPR.

Monkeybicyle features some great one-sentence stories, many of which come in at under twenty-five words. Be sure to check out R. Gatwood’s potent eleven-word piece “Dandelions Actually” here.

Robert Swartwood, the official authority on hint fiction, published “Summer of ‘84” in Everyday Genius. This story is a series of hints that can stand alone but that, together, form a larger narrative.

Leave your own hint fiction in the comments.

by Sadye Teiser

2 Comments on “Hint Fiction: Six Stories to Read in Under a Minute”

  • The Masters Review | Short Story Month: RECAP June 9th, 2015 5:48 pm

    […] In our first week of Short Story Month, we looked at stories that “hinted” at larger fictions. For Hint Fiction week, we give you six stories you can read in under a minute. […]

  • The Masters Review | Literary Terms: Flash Fiction January 27th, 2016 8:36 am

    […] Hint Fiction – Credit goes to Robert Swartwood for coining the term hint fiction as: “A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex, story.” We were thrilled to get a chance to talk with Swartwood himself in this interview. Swartwood also edited the first-ever hint fiction anthology, and he explained to us what he believes makes a great piece of hint: “For me, a successful hint fiction story stands by itself. It’s not a first sentence or random sentence plucked out of a much larger work. In many ways, it has a beginning, middle, and end.” Here is a roundup of a few of our favorite hint fiction stories to read online. […]