Choosing to Write a Novel Composed of 100-Word Stories

Ran Walker
2 min readOct 18, 2021

Shortly after I finished my first collection of 100-word stories, Keep It 100, I began considering if I could write a novel using 100–word stories/chapters. I had never seen it done before, although I was fairly familiar with the novella-in-flash and the flash novel. Still, this micro-novel, which, honestly, doesn’t seem to completely capture the essence of using a singular, word-specific form, was not something I was seeing in the wild very often. Sure, there were The House on Mango Street, We the Animals, The Department of Speculation, and other novels that used brief chapters, but those books did not have chapters of the exact same length.

The math was easy: 100 100-word stories was 10,000 words. How could a person really keep a straight face while calling that a novel? As I began to write the book, though, I noticed that many of the same ideas and structures I had employed on earlier novels came into play here, as well. Once I completed it and read it, I realized that it very much felt like a novel. It’s just that it was distilled, with space for the reader to interact mentally with the content. So I guess it is possible to write a 10,000-word novel after all.

But in the words of Ian Malcolm, just because someone can do something doesn’t exactly mean that they should. To get around this, I had only to answer this question: Why would this novel form be best for this particular story? Answering this question turned out to be much easier than I had originally thought.

A Burst of Gray is an unusual book all the way around. It is a story that works effectively in the 100-word story/chapter style, but it is also a work of Afrofuturism that does not rely on race as a part of the plot. It is a love story that one could easily argue is not exactly a love story. It is many things, all of which are different, but it clearly works as a “novel in 100-word stories.”

In the future, I hope to see other people using this specific form for their novels. Maybe by then the phrase “A Novel In 100-Word Stories” will have been replaced by a much shorter and smoother monicker.

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