100 Word Stories

Looking for a writing activity that helps build student skills, but doesn’t take a full period? Try the 100 Word Story activity.

ESL teachers usually look for new writing prompts and warm-ups to help their students stay interested in learning English writing. 100 Word Story is a website, a writing challenge and a terrific writing idea for the ESL classroom.

Time Estimate

  • 15-30 minutes


The idea is simple: write a story with 100 words.

The topic is wide open.

The only rule, except for the word count, is that it must be a story, not a random collection of words.

Writing Example

The 100 Word Story website has many stories. Here is a wonderfully creative example by Carly Anderson.

Apartment Key

It was Sunday in October—the day he arrived at the hardware store and asked to have it cut, the day he fingered its nickel plated edges before placing it in her palm, before she asked if he was sure and then tucked it inside the zippered pocket of her purse, before they cha-chaed in Little Havana and spent the summer declaring thumb wars, before he lost his job and started smoking out on the fire escape, before she locked herself in the bathroom while he smashed her porcelain teacups, before she cried while abandoning it on the coffee table.

Extra Directions

Writing a coherent story is the big challenge of this activity. Encourage students to write a complete idea, rather than an unfinished story. Teach students to focus on one idea.  To answer a question. To pose a question.

Teach writing?

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Save time. Teach well.

Cut your lesson prep time with this 240-page collection of ESL resources that stimulate language learning and critical thinking: awesome pair work speaking activities, logic puzzles, trivia, word games and much more. Simplify your lesson planning because teaching should be a joy, not a chore.

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