I’m working on a story or two for a “flash fiction” contest — 100 words or less. What a fun challenge! Today while googling Snoopy quotes (as one does) I stumbled upon the full text of his novel — written over the course of many comic strips. It’s kind of brilliant! But of course most of what came out of Charles Shultz’ head was brilliant. It’s meant to be a demonstration of Snoopy’s hyperbolic over-writing, of using old tropes like “It was a dark and stormy night” instead of writing something original and subtle. But I think it really works! It certainly holds your attention. And even though at first it’s hard to see the connection between the pirate, the king, the intern, and the little girl with the tattered shawl, he quickly ties everything together — in one sentence in fact. No need for more details — the mood, the action, the plot, and the resolution are all there, in 220 words.
It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed.
Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!
While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.
A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day.
At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly.
Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates?
The intern frowned.
“Stampede!” the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men rolled on the ground grappling beneath the murderous hooves. A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch was saved.
The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the coffee shop. He had learned about medicine, but more importantly, he had learned something about life.