What is microfiction? Is it different from flash fiction?
Microfiction is fiction that is written in 300 words or less. It encompasses forms such as the six-word story, twitterature (140 character story), dribble (50 words) and drabble (100 words).
Microfiction is a subset of flash fiction. That is, all microfiction is flash fiction, but not all flash fiction is microfiction. Flash fiction is fiction that is written in 1000 words or less.
When writing such short stories, the word count is important only in that it provides a general guideline for how concise your story is. If you’ve been working on a novel, the idea of writing a tale in such a short span can be intimidating.
But if you spend any time on social media, you might know the appeal of such short stories. To share snippets of your life on Twitter or Facebook, you are necessitated to brevity. Applying this to fiction creates a whole new, interesting way of presenting information.
Can I read some examples of microfiction?
If you’re not interested in collecting anthologies of microfiction, you’ll be pleased to hear that microfiction is one of the easiest forms to find on the Internet.
Chances are, you already read micro(non)fiction if you follow anyone on Twitter or Facebook.
How to write microfiction
The shortness of microfiction demands a slightly different process than something more conventional like a short story. As such, you can learn from the pros or follow this process to help teach yourself how to write microfiction.
- Come up with a story. Who is your main character? What is their conflict? What happens to them? Where does it happen? Just because your story is super short doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to have vibrant characters with deep problems in memorable settings.
- Write it out once. Tell the story in as many words as you need. Add in the details that you think are important. This is your first draft.
- Cut out the fluff. David Gaffney uses a great image for this: your first draft is like a slab of marble. Cutting is like chipping away at the draft until you’ve left a statue behind. This is the moment in the process where you decide exactly how short (or long) your story is going to be.
- Polish each sentence. Make sure that each word is conveying something—a feeling, an atmosphere, a detail. Your first and your last sentences should receive extra attention.
- Craft your title. When your story has so little room to speak, take special care when choosing your title. It should contribute as much to the story as every sentence you’ve just perfected.
Extra tips for writing microfiction
Here’s some more advice that I’ve garnered:
- Start in media res. You don’t have time for exposition, so start in the middle of things. You might also end before the last sentence, so you can help the reader process the story.
- Take your time. Even though it’s easy to crank out a couple sentences and call it fiction, bother to take the time to think about characterization, setting, conflict, and plot.
- Use adjectives and adverbs at your peril. Keep your word count down by choosing the best nouns and verbs for your story. Besides, a well-chosen noun or verb does more for your description than any adjective or adverb. (Psst! Thesauruses are your friends!)
- Go ahead and move on. Microfiction is a fun exercise. Don’t be afraid to use it as an experiment to help your primary writing pursuits!
Maybe you could share a microstory in the comments below…
But seriously… have you ever written a six-word story? Twitterature? Dribble or drabble? Do you have any other advice for writers dabbling in microfiction or flash fiction?