“It’s thrilling to meet you Gloria.”
“Yes, you obviously have a wonderful economy with words Gloria. I look forward to your next syllable, with great eagerness.”
Economy with words, the epitome of micro fiction.
The excerpt above is from the 1981 comedy classic, ‘Arthur’, with Dudley Moore and Sir John Gielgud. One of my favourites. Check out this 15 second clip:
Micro fiction is the weight-watcher’s equivalent of flash fiction. Slim. While word counts vary, popular formats are usually 100 or 150 words – maximum. Not a single word more. Killing your darlings has never been so brutally violent in any writing genre. Seriously, with zero room for superfluous words – like superfluous – editing is king in micro fiction.
Regardless of the minimalistic word count, stories must unfold in a cohesive manner – beginning, middle and end. The most successful works have a unique ‘hook’ and some form of unexpected twist or humorous turn of events. Dark stories, unusual, sinister and thought-provoking concepts fare well in this genre. Horror and science fiction are common themes.
For anyone contemplating the genre, there are several online publications and literary magazines that accept both flash and micro fiction. Google them. Anthologies are also an option. If you consider entering the tiny writing market, I recommend you devote ample time to reading micro fiction stories – good and bad, to get a feel for the genre and understand what works and what doesn’t. When the time comes for you to submit your own masterpiece, read the submission guidelines carefully, especially the word count, and send only your best work.
Advice I didn’t always heed.
Like many novice writers, I’ve fallen in love with the occasional gem. Love is blind, and blindness has a way of convincing us a ‘cooling off’ period (my terminology for the time and distance between the first and second draft), is unnecessary. Love tells us it’s ready to go – now.
A sure way to add to that box of rejection letters.
The cooling off period is essential. Relocate that masterpiece into an obscure Documents Folder, preferably one you never access, like ‘My Fitness Regime’ or ‘New Years Resolutions’, and don’t peak. Wait a month, two, longer if you can bare it. The benefits increase exponentially with time, and you’ll have a tighter story in the end. Guaranteed.
Micro fiction, despite the simple concept, is not an easy genre to write. Some of the most accomplished writers have difficulty writing for this market. It’s not for everyone.
I tried my hand at the genre years back. I found it challenging, at times frustrating, but also a powerful outlet for spontaneous creativity. Story ideas came from anywhere at any time. By the time I started feeling comfortable writing in 150 word blocks, I abruptly switched gears and went back to more familiar terrain. Go figure.
And this is where the idea for my blog topic came from.
With leap year upon us, my mind drifted back to a piece I wrote while experimenting with micro fiction. While I pondered the topic’s potential, I searched high and low, eventually finding a copy of the story hidden on the hard drive of my old dust covered HP desktop.
The piece is entitled ‘Day of Origin’, one of a couple micro fictions I had published in AlienSkin Magazine, a bi-monthly e-zine dedicated to speculative fiction.
150 words exactly. Submissions had to be 150 – on the nose.
If nothing else, micro fiction is a great tool for stretching your creative limits, and sharpening your editing skills. While it may never be at the top of the publication market, it’s worth a dabble.
Until next time.