Book Review | Hint Fiction

Title: Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer

Author: Robert Swartwood

My Review:

Can an entire story really be told in less than 25 words? Editor Robert Swartwood seeks to convince readers of this in An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer ($13.95, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.). Hint fiction is defined as “a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story”.

In the introduction, Swartwood argues that stories where the writer and the reader each contribute 50%–the writer only giving half the story and then the reader filling in the blanks–is the greatest kind of storytelling that there is.

This anthology of super short fiction is divided into 3 parts: Life & Death, Love & Hate, and This & That. Each of the stories are written with the intention of gaining a reaction from the reader, ones that tug at the heartstrings or bring about laughter. There are a total of 125 stories included in this anthology, contributions from famous authors like Joyce Carol Oates and James Frey.

I took creative writing courses in college, and remember one writing exercise that required us to tell a complete story in a certain number of words. Part of the reason I wanted to read this anthology was to learn something about the art of writing from it. I’d love to try this writing exercise again to see what stories I can spin, and marvel at the hidden meaning behind such few words.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this anthology were included as part of a writing course’s reading material. I also think this would make a great gift for anyone who loves to both read and write, and wants to improve their craft.

*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*


Jen currently lives in Utah with her family, and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She is active on popular book websites including,, and

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