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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Microwave Fiction: Just Add Writing!

Flash Fiction -- It's what you write when you don't have the attention span to craft a novella, right?

Just kidding! It's actually what you get when you read or write a short story in a thousand words or less. The actual word count varies depending on what you're doing exactly, but much less than that and you're getting into micro fiction -- which is what I'm doing these days. Among other things.

And that's what I like about these ultrashort pieces. You can hammer out a whole story in a paragraph or less, or sneak in a light bit of reading between coffee breaks. Maybe even both! Not that this new microwave fiction stuff is easy to write, but a truly clever bit will stir the noggin a trifle.

It's a great way to squirt a little oil into the creative clockworks. Make it really good and it will invite both the reader and the writer to think it over. Yes, and there's the catch, but never fear -- here are five links to help with that particular aspect of the challenge:

As an added bonus, here are five bits of advice I've learned from my own attempts:

Build your story up. Start with a single sentence. Then make it a paragraph. If the story isn't told yet, make each of those sentences the start of their own paragraphs. Keep adding sentences and paragraphs until you have a story. Click here for an astonishingly simple method for scaling your story outward.

Keep it short. I had trouble with this aspect of microfiction until I started using Twitter's 140 character limit to define my pararaphs. I still cringe at the amount of wordage I have to cut, but this does help frame my story properly. Interestingly, it also helps the writing flow better.

Go easy on the detail. I tend to get caught up in the details, and that's fine for novel writing. But microwave fiction doesn't give you room to go all Tolkienesque on the reader. Edit out whatever isn't absolutely necessary. Then trim it some more.

Write between the lines. Remember all the details you had to edit out? Imply as much of it as you can with carefully chosen words and phrases. This takes some time and thought, but if a story is worth telling, isn't it worth telling right?

Let the story surprise you. These things don't always go where we expect them to go, and that's okay. Readers aren't looking for the boring and the predictable. If they wanted that, they wouldn't be reading at all; they'd be out smelling the roses or something. No, readers like surprises. Microwave fiction lends itself to surprises... if you let it.

Next up: I share some actual fiction. If ya don't feel like waiting, you might get a preview at my Twitter account as I try my hand at actually making some of my microwave fiction -- *gasp* -- PUBLIC!


  1. Bring on the fiction. I can't wait to see it, but I'll do so on this blog. I actually thought of writing some horror on my blog, but that'll happen when I'm done rambling. Have a great day.

  2. I've tried my hand at a few flash fiction pieces, and it is harder than it looks. It's definitely a case of making every word count. Tough for someone who likes to write 100k novels.

  3. Very cool, but I've just started blogging, don't Twitter, am in the process of cutting my first novel in my series down by another 30,000 words and working on another for a contest due at the end of this month. But, I am The Queen of the Short Essay, since I had to do editorials for two newsletters every month, so this blogging thing is easy. Stopped by for Follow Friday and you're welcome to stop by my site too:

  4. Hey, this is great advice. I haven't seen much on flash fiction. Well done.

    Good luck with your writing and come for a visit sometime.