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How to Write Micro Fiction

Updated on June 6, 2013

Introducing Micro Fiction

Micro fiction is any story written in 200 words or less (some only accept 100 words or less so double check the submission guidelines). Some publishers are looking for stories that are six words or exactly 50 words. Some publish stories on Twitter and can only accept 140 characters. There are so many publishers looking for vastly different things that you really need to read the submissions guidelines.

Most micro fiction publishers are looking for stories that fall under the heading of speculative fiction--fantasy, horror or science fiction. Stories about zombies, vampires, ghost, the end of the world, aliens, and so on are in high demand. Love and romance are in too but they tend to include zombies, vampires, monsters, ghosts and aliens.

Micro fiction is not easy to write and writing good micro fiction is even more difficult. You have to tell a story in just 200 words (or less!), which means you have to write a very concise story. Editors are looking for cohesive stories that are a bit unusual and have a touch of humor. It is a form of writing that requires a lot of practice. Finding a mentor really helps.

Why Micro Fiction?

Micro and flash fiction are fun to read because they're so short and easy to squeeze in during a short beak at work or before heading off to bed when you want to read some kind of fiction but don't have time to devote to a novel or even regular short story. I have found that they frequently challenge our ability to fill in the scene around what we're shown. Many stories are speculative fiction, delving into monsters, zombies, sci-fi and the like.

For the writer, the attraction is the challenge. Can you really write a story in six words? How about 50 or 100? I am addicted to the challenge. Give me a word or concept and I'll create a story for you. I also like that I can write these stories in ... well ... a flash. The average story takes 20-30 minutes to write and edit. It also allows me to focus better on longer projects by giving me an outlet for the ideas forming in the back of my head waiting for their turn. I also get to practice my freewriting as I rarely have more than a word or concept to work with so whatever ends up on the page is unplanned and written by the seat of my pants.

Some Tips on Writing Micro Fiction

Writing good micro fiction means keeping writing tight stories that constantly move the story forwards. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

* Always use contractions. It saves you one word every time.

* Keep descriptions sparse. You have 100 words to tell the story so keep your descriptions to a minimum.

* Start with a great hook. Really bring your readers into the story right off the bat.

* Humour and originality are the keys to getting your micro fiction published. Surprise endings are great sells, too.

* Read the markets before submitting to them. Make sure your micro fiction piece is suited to their publication.

* Join a critique group to really hone your micro fiction skills.

Twitter Fic

One of the crazes on Twitter is to write 140 character stories. It may sound impossible but there are dozens of writers putting out these stories every day. The rules of writing micro fiction still apply here -- use contractions, forget about the descriptions. And you can still focus on complex topics but you have to break them down until you're left with the basics.

I often start with a longer story and trim it down until I get to 140 or less characters. I always have dictionary.com's thesaurus open to find just the right word to fit or send me in a new direction with the story. It can take up to a half hour to write just one of these tales and get it just the way I want it.

Here are some samples that I've written:

I clicked send, my entry was on its way. I waited nervously then the results were announced. I made the short list but didn't win the prize.

I taught myself astro-physics. I tried to teach myself quanta. Now I'm trapped in the dark matter of my mind and I'm lost in space.

The groom ran off with the pastor. Stranded and devastated, she destroyed the flowers and wedding cake then hung herself with her veil.

eBooks

Some collections I've published of my work.

Prompted
Prompted

My second collection of micro and flash fiction.

 
Everything
Everything

A collection of short stories, including two by me.

 

Like what you see? Let me know!

Reader Feedback - AKA, Comments

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    • crafty1 nh profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy A. Cavanaugh 

      5 years ago from Keene, NH

      @kimberlyschimmel: It is an interesting way to think about writing -- just focusing on the guts of the story and allowing the reader to fill in the blanks about what the person or room looks like. I have always been really bad about describing things so it is the perfect form of writing for me.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 

      5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Interesting concept! I am a concise writer of nonfiction, but I'm not sure if I could tell a good fiction story in less than 100 words. I might try, just to see what I can do.

    • crafty1 nh profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy A. Cavanaugh 

      5 years ago from Keene, NH

      @JohnGcorner: I just added a module talking about writing Twitter Fic. Let me know if you start publishing your own stories. I'd love to read them.

    • crafty1 nh profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy A. Cavanaugh 

      5 years ago from Keene, NH

      @AcornOakForest: It really is a great challenge! I hope you try it.

    • crafty1 nh profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy A. Cavanaugh 

      5 years ago from Keene, NH

      @JohnGcorner: I have done several Twitter tales but not in a long while. Maybe I should get back into it.

    • JohnGcorner profile image

      JohnGcorner 

      5 years ago

      You just made me think about starting a micro-fiction based twitter account. :o In all seriousness, great lense, wish it was longer!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Good tips! I love micro fiction and hope to get back into writing it someday. It's such a fun challenge to have a complete story in such a small space.

    • crafty1 nh profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy A. Cavanaugh 

      6 years ago from Keene, NH

      @futureposterboy: Some people really enjoy the ability to read a story in a few seconds while they're waiting for another page to load or whatever else they're doing. It is a unique market, for sure, and not for everyone.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      enjoyed my visit to your article tonight and reading it.

    • iwright lm profile image

      iwright lm 

      7 years ago

      I am a freelance writer by trade and just learned an amazing amount of info from your page! Greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • profile image

      FamousArt 

      8 years ago

      interesting lens and good job from lensmaster..thanks

      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Sally Menke | top music | movie reviews | paintings art

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Thumbs up!

      Great lens... very informative. Thanks for the good read.

      -----------------------------

      The Diet Solution Program Review

    • profile image

      futureposterboy 

      8 years ago

      What is the main use of micro fiction? I understand that it is quick story but it seems that it wouldn't have the same entertainment value as a short or full length novel.

    • Annie McMahon profile image

      Annie McMahon 

      9 years ago from New Jersey

      Great lens! I'm lensrolling it on a new lens I just published about my short fiction stories.

    • profile image

      skye_writer 

      10 years ago

      wow! I didn't even know that there was such a thing as micro fiction. This was very informative. Thank You!

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