Microfiction

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous, heart-breaking six word story, the art of writing extremely short fiction (or microfiction, nanofiction, short short stories, flash fiction etc.) has come to conquer all of today’s genres as a form of storytelling haiku.

There are several forms of very short fiction, from vignettes and stories told with a mere handful of words (like six, ten, fifty five words for a complete story) to a stories that are a few hundreds of words long (like 200 or 500 word fiction), to the more common short stories that go up to 1000-2000 words. Despite their nauseating compactness, micro-stories must be complete with protagonist, setting and conflict, and even a resolution, whereas their great power lies in the unwritten, in the implied and hidden weight of the story that grows inside the reader’s mind.

I find microfiction absolutely fascinating, and I believe it’s one of the best ways to train your story-telling talents. It’s focused creativity and fictional stimulation at its finest.

If you haven’t yet become infected, here are a handful of my favorite examples of microfiction, starting of course with the initial master. Enjoy, and if you find yourself inspired, please share your microfiction in the comments, I’d love to read it!

 

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 
~Ernest Hemingway

The world’s shortest horror story:

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.
~Frederic Brown

The horror story that’s one letter shorter than the world’s shortest horror story:

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a lock on the door.
~Ron Smith

 

And some great little bits from all over the web:

‘This is our secret,’ whispered daddy.
~Koos Drescher

Homecoming Queen fails to come home.
~Dill Carver

Unwanted boy grows into wanted man.
~Nate Christen

Loved her enough to pretend otherwise.
~Eric Hsieh

Spotted the tiger. Died on spot.
~Sanyukta Saha

Baby digested. Unaware mother nurses alien.
~Kevin Bealer

Fortune cookie reads: That wasn’t chicken.
~Curtis Bryan

 

I think this is a great challenge and super-much fun. I can already see how this can help me write those damned blurbs and pitches that suck my brain through a straw.

So let me start with a tentative wrap-up of my adult sci-fi WIP in a six-sentence-story, hoping I’ll get better in time.

 

Lost my humanity. Allowed him freedom.

 

 

6 Replies to “Microfiction”

  1. This remains my only attempt at microfiction to date, inspired by that legendary Hemingway line:

    Prom cancelled–hundreds missing, presumed dead.

    With the rise of twitfic, I’ve considered delving into microfiction more seriously, but the brevity required can be intimidating. It’s a fun exercise though, even if you only seem to get hieroglyphs out of it.

    I’ve written quite a bit of flash, but that’s about as short as I can comfortably manage without banging my head on the desk. I also have a few stories that I’m trying to find a good market for that fall in that 1000-2000 word range between flash and shorts (most pro and semipro markets seem to prefer 4000-5000). But that’s one of the fun parts of writing shorts, finding that perfect window of word economy without crippling the story in the process.

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    1. That’s a good one, James!

      I don’t know much about short fiction markets, but from what I’ve heard from other writers the interest does indeed steer toward pieces longer than 2000. However, I think in your case it’s only a matter of time and nothing else until your stories can be found all over the place, including anthologies.

      For me, at least while I’m still working at my WIP, the concept of microfiction is an interesting game, because it allows me to play with words, and reminds me a bit of my old poem-writing times.

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  2. I’m a newbie micro fictionist. I’m learning, honing, and mastering the craft by reading how-to books, micro fiction stories, author profiles and writing my very short stories on my website.

    Here’s the shortest I’ve written:

    ***

    Mr. Canwright writes not a fiction. He scribbles words of make-believe. “Huh, this is nonsense!”

    ***

    Not literary, I think. But, my goal is to connect with the mass population.

    Like

    1. Hi L.P.C.! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Microfiction sure is quite a challenge, but also very enjoyable! Nugget prose fits perfectly with today’s click-check-next society.

      Keep learning, keep writing and have fun with it! And good luck building up your site with lots of bits of fiction. Cheers. 🙂

      Like

  3. The one by Kevin Bealer made my stomach plunge. Who knew just a finger full of words could have that kind of impact. I’ve heard of flash fiction and stories that are 200 words long but this is the first time I’ve heard of nanofiction. I honestly thought flash and nano were interchangeable. Now I know better. 🙂 Might give it a try someday when I’m not busy writing the long stuff.

    Sarah @ The Writer’s Experiment

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    1. Microfiction has a tremendous power to teach a writer to cut through the loud clutter that gathers in her mind (all of us long-prose guys suffer from that, don’t we?) and get to the barest core of what a story means. It’s a strangely liberating experience, definitely worth a try. 😀

      Thank you for the comment, Sarah! 🙂

      Like

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