It may be easier to begin with what micro fiction is not. It’s not a fragment. Not a beginning. It is not a piece of a bigger story. Micro-fiction is the story. It is a complete narrative told in roughly 1000 words or less. For this class you will be writing 750 words or less. And for your first assignment I’d like you to limit yourself to 500 words or less. But we will get to that in a minute.
Micro fiction, also called flash fiction, hint fiction, and sudden fiction is a style of writing concerned with brevity. In just a couple hundred words micro fiction contains all of the elements of the classic short story: protagonist, narrative arc, conflict, and resolution. A deft hand is required to wield so few words and gain so much. But I, as I’m sure you do, believe in the power of words. Micro fiction is like a snapshot. A small slice of life laid bare before a reader. Micro fiction, in order to tell a story in a small space often eschews the typically narrative arc in favor of flipping itself over to reveal the soft belly from the beginning. And the resolution doesn’t have to resolve anything. There is power and poignancy in an open door, in the characters continuing on after the story has ended. Micro fiction provides all of these possibilities. What may seem limiting can become freeing.
Like any writing, this requires focus. When combining micro fiction with magical realism it also requires bravery, a tough heart, and willingness to fail. Because little creatures can be unpredictable. It’s easy to let words and animals get out of control. These stories might want to bite the hand that feeds them. Let them. Try feeding them something else. Try writing from the ending backwards. Begin with famous last words and make your way to them. There are any number of ways to make a micro fiction. I want you to try them all.
For this week, I want you to keep your submission 500 words or less. Try to include a monster or other fairy tale creature in a modern setting. Or reverse it and write about a modern human in a past fairy tale. Try to avoid typical clichés. And make sure to sharpen your sentences and your claws.
Because you have only a few hundred words you may have to find a way to tell us what the monster of creature is without saying it fully. Make your reader understand, but don’t worry if some pieces seem to be enigmas. Micro fiction is often open to multiple interpretations. Let yourself get lost in the form. See what can happen. It’s okay to be scared as long as it doesn’t stop you from continuing to find your way through the haunted trees.
Header image: Laura Makabresku