Looking for an idea for a short story? Or, better still, a short story already written, not only written but edited and told in the most efficient way? Try scanning the classified section of a newspaper.

 Below is an example of a “short story” – a really short story – discovered in a classified ad in a local press. I gave it a title and added a few words. Otherwise, it’s exactly as written. Read it and smile – or weep.



You Are Cordially Invited…

(the world’s shortest short story)

Classified ad (with one or two modifications) recently appearing in a metropolitan weekly newspaper

4 Sale

Wedding Dress – Size 6, pink, flowered slip; garment never worn, still in box ($500 when new; sell for $10). If customer buys gown, a man’s 14 karat gold wedding band is included at a give-away price; it, too, never worn. If interested, call 406-789 and leave a message. Will return call upon regaining balance or when able to smile again. Be patient.




Filed under writing

8 responses to “SHORT STORY IDEAS ARE EVERYWHERE by Calvin Davis

  1. Oh dear.

    You’re right – a story in its own right. Not unlike the Ernest Hemingway six-word quip.

  2. In a piece of flash fiction, what is left unsaid is as important as what is said, perhaps more so.

    Consider Ernest Hemmingway’s piece of flash: For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

    It has a beginning, and middle and an end, and it certainly leaves the reader to infer a host of possibilities.

    Your flash, 4 Sale, is as good as was Hemingway’s. Well done!

    • Dear J. Guest,
      Thanks for your comment. Comparing me to Hemingway? Not hardly. Half of my writing life, I wanted to write like ThomasWolfe, who would never use three words, when could use thirtey-three . During the later part of my life I realized that Hemingway was right: never use thirty-three words when three will do.
      Again, thanksfor your comment.
      Calvin Davis, author of the Phantom Lady of Paris

  3. Very good! I remember once at a party, someone picked up a paper and began reading the classifieds out loud. Yeah, we did stuff like that in the 60s. Some of them struck me as surreal and I kept asking, “Did you make that up?” “That’s not really in the paper is it?”

  4. Dear Mickey Hoffman,
    My idea has always been that if you want to find out about a city, read the classified ads in the local paper. Don’t go to the city’s Chamber of Commerce or to the tourist information center. If you do, you’ll get a distdorted picture of what the town is like. It is in the classified ads where the rubber meets the road. The salt of the earth people live in the ads: people who are struggling to get a job, to sell an item in order to stay alive for a few more days.They all struggle in the ads.
    Thank you for you comments.
    Calvin Davis, author of the Phantom Lady of Paris

  5. Authors generally hate being asked where they get their ideas for their stories, but I’ve always loved finding out what strikes people as being write-worthy. I’d never considered getting story ideas from the classified ads — sounds like a great way to find ideas, and just think, when people ask you where you got your ideas, you can tell them the truth: I found it in the classified ads.

  6. Wow, it leads one to wonder–was she left at the altar, did she find out something so awful about her intended, or did he die before they could say “I do”? Very clever, Calvin, and an insightful way to get ideas.

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