How to Write Micro Fiction
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.
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.
Some collections I've published of my work.
My second collection of micro and flash fiction.
A collection of short stories, including two by me.
Books on Micro Fiction
Like what you see? Let me know!