Constraint: 220 words

"Constraint is liberating." -- M. J. Dominus

In 1957 Dr. Seuss famously released The Cat in the Hat. The marvel of the book was the vocabulary. 61 pages, and 220 words. Not a word count of 220, Cat is about 1550 words, but a vocabulary of 220 words.

I counted them and came up with 235. Perhaps there is some methodology issue, such as if to count plurals. My method of counting treats plurals ("kite" and "kites" and possesives ("mother" and "mother's") as seperate words. Ignoring that rule I found the vocabulary to be 221 words. See my Cat in the Hat page for details.

It is pretty frequent for people to have story categories for short-short stories, eg 500 words or less. I thought a Dr. Seuss twist on that would be fun.

220 Word Challenge Rules:

  1. The story can be of unlimited length, but the vocabulary is 220 words or less.
  2. Every different spelling is a different word: "finger" is different than "fingers", "lick" is different than "licked", "it's" is different than "its", "John's" is different than "John".
  3. Different meanings for the same spelling (homonyms) are not different words. "The fast race car was stuck fast in the mud" has nine words, not ten.
  4. Use any vocabulary list you want.
  5. Use any punctuation you want.
  6. Dr. Seuss rhyme and meter not required.
  7. Post to on or before the 8th of August (the 220th day in a non-leap year) with the code "220 words" in the subject (even if you use fewer, you can mention that in the body if you like).

Stories Posted by August 8th 2002

Story title link is to the Google copy. Google has more bandwidth than the text repository (ASSTR), but ASSTR is the authoritative archive of

  1. Appreciation (aka "Fascination") by Souvie. {voy, erotic verse} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 56 words
    Length: 111 words
    Reviewed: Crimson Dragon [10,10,N/A,10]
    Reviewed: Annex Reviews by Lady Cyrrh [A]
  2. yes Mistress by Eli the Bearded. {Fdom/Fm/toy/hum} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 160 words
    Length: 1001 words
  3. Abyss and Amuck and a Really Good Fuck by Desdmona {no keywords provided; "MF poem" seem appropriate} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 208 words
    Length: 726 words
    Reviewed: Crimson Dragon [10,10,n/a,9]
  4. Not With a Fox by Alexis Siefert {mf first} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 127 words
    Length: 211 words
  5. Breakfast in Bed by Mat Twassel {no keywords provided; "MF food" seem appropriate} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 220 words
    Length: 220 words
  6. Ten Chocolates by PleaseCain {messy nosex} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 220 words
    Length: 440 words
  7. Unplugged by Gary Jordan {FF, rom, flash} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 206 words
    Length: 342 words
    Reviewed: Crimson Dragon [10,10,10,10]

Stories Posted after August 8th 2002

  1. Free Babes on Cam by Kenny N Gamera {poem nosex} (story at asstr)
    Vocabulary: 93 words
    Length: 628 words

Count Yourself

Want to find the vocabulary and length of a bit of text? Try this online wordcounter. Or if you have perl, you can download this wordcount perl script.