Beyond Recognition: A Writing Challenge

The same story, told in exactly 100, 500, 1000, and 3000 words

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Human Parts
Published in
20 min readNov 7, 2021


Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash

A brief explanation:

This November, in lieu of NaNoWriMo, I’ve challenged myself to write something every day based on the daily writing prompts posted by Ravyne Hawke for the publication Promptly Written. The fiction prompt for 4 November reads:

You run into someone from High School that you haven’t seen for a decade. Something has changed about him/her. Set the scene . . . Decide what’s changed. Write a scene or a full story.
Word Length — 100 words exactly

It was a significant challenge for me to tell a coherent story in just 100 words, but I was really proud of my story, “Recognition.” I knew that I could have made the story much longer, and wondered if something is lost — or gained? — by constraining writing to a short word count. To fill in a day without a writing prompt (for November, there will be fiction or poetry prompts every weekday, plus one per weekend, leaving me without a prompt on Sundays), I decided to challenge myself to rewrite “Recognition” in 500, one thousand, and three thousand words — but otherwise keeping the plot, style, and characters exactly the same.

The same story, four times. Is more, better? Is less, more? That’s for you to decide. Without further ado:


1. One hundred words

You make eye contact with the beautiful woman ahead of you in the coffee queue. Recognition dawns and her face lights up as she looks at you. She says your name softly, like a gasp.

Do we know each other? you ask. I’m so sorry, I don’t —

She laughs with the tinkling sound of bells. Her hand touches your hand. It is a familiar touch, familiar eyes.

It clicks: you knew her, once. When she was —

— but that person is gone. She tells you her new name and you repeat it, reverently.

She looks so much happier than she did before.

2. Five hundred words



Dr. Casey Lawrence
Human Parts

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.