Alisha Adkins is an author, gamer, and zombie enthusiast. She is currently pursuing her dream of writing and quietly starving to death.
What Is the Perfect Story Length?
What's the Difference?
You've probably heard the term flash fiction, but what, if anything, makes it different from a traditional short story?
It's a matter of length. There is some disagreement over exact numbers, but a short story is typically categorized as being between 1,000 - 7,500 words. Flash fiction is shorter; it is generally classified as a work of fiction that is no more than 1,000 words long. And, if that's not short enough, there's micro fiction. Micro fiction is even shorter still, frequently recognized as consisting of less than 300 words.
Flash Fiction Gained Its Popularity Online
Current Trends: The Ever-Shrinking Short Story
In the past, longer short stories were preferable. However, the Internet changed this trend, giving rise to the popularity of flash fiction.
Now, in our fast-paced world of ever decreasing attention spans, people are more and more frequently choosing to access media with their mobile devices. In this climate, it only makes sense that micro-fiction should flourish in place of longer works. In fact, it may just be the newest trend in short fiction.
Author Marc Nash Discusses Flash Fiction
Why Shorter Is Better
For the reader, shorter is better because it is more mobile-friendly. After all, scrolling through pages of text is a cumbersome task when viewing on a small screen.
Flash and micro fiction are also more time-efficient. In fact, micro fiction requires only the most minimal of time investments from its reader, offering a full story in little more than a sound bite.
For the writer, writing shorter pieces may also be a better option. Many writers argue that writing flash fiction makes you a better writer. Writing with brevity forces a writer to be precise and make every word count. Flash and micro fiction require tightly constructed story structures and a clever endings that have impact. Thus, writing flash fiction can be a beneficial exercise for both new writers who are developing their styles and experienced writers honing their craft.
Perhaps even more importantly, there is a market for it! The demand for flash and micro fiction online can provide writers with new opportunities to reach more readers.
A Micro Fiction Post on Bubblews
The Perfect Platform for Micro-Fiction
Bubblews may well be the perfect platform for posting online micro fiction.
Bubblews is a new social blogging site that pays its users for posting content. Users receive money based on views, "likes," and comments a post receives. Posts must meet a minimum of only 400 characters (that's characters, not words!), and short posts tend to be more frequently read and favorably received than longer ones.
If you are keen to start posting micro fiction at Bubblews, feel free to check out these examples of Bubblews micro fiction posts as a frame of reference.
A Short Stranger
Homes for Flash Fiction
If you're willing to go through a submission process, there are a myriad of online magazines that specialize in flash and micro fiction.
Here are just a few examples of online magazines that are seeking short forms of fiction:
- The Rag is an electronic literary magazine that publishes poetry and fiction under 1500 words.
- @Urban Magazine is currently looking for super short stories of 100 words or less.
- And, although Storyhack has closed submissions for the first issue of its micro flash fiction magazine, it will presumably be soliciting new work again soon.
"How To Write Flash Fiction"
If you are new to writing flash or micro fiction, there are plenty of useful tips available to help you get started. You may find the following articles helpful:
- Writers & Artists offers dedicated genre advice in its article "Flash Fiction."
- The Guardian has published a helpful article entitled "Stories in your Pocket: How to Write Flash Fiction," that will guide you through the steps of getting started writing flash fiction.
- Pif Magazine has published "The Essentials of Microfiction," a very helpful article specifically addressing the challenges of writing micro fiction.
"The Essentials of Microfiction." pif magazine. http://www.pifmagazine.com/1998/06/the-essentials-of-microfiction/
"5 Reasons Why Flash Fiction Is Good For You." Poetic License. http://francenecarroll13.blogspot.com/2012/11/5-reasons-why-flash-fiction-is-good-for.html
"Flash Fiction." Nom de Strip, a journal of Arts & Culture in the South West. http://nomdestrip.co.uk/blog/flash-fiction/
"Flash fiction." Writers & Artists, the Insider Guide to the Media. http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/242/dedicated-genre-advice/writing-short-stories/flash-fiction
"Micro-Fiction: the Art of Writing Small." Rebelle Society. http://www.rebellesociety.com/2012/10/03/micro-fiction-the-art-of-writing-small/
"Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction." the guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/may/14/how-to-write-flash-fiction
"Writing Tips: Two Reasons to Try Writing Microfiction." Jocelyn Crawley, Yahoo Contributor Network. http://voices.yahoo.com/writing-tips-two-reasons-try-writing-microfiction-12035117.html
- Amazon Kindle e-Books: To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish
Self publishing allows authors to quickly reach an audience. Is traditional publishing, with its copious rejections and long delays before publication, still worth pursuing?
© 2013 Alisha Adkins
johnmariow on July 25, 2016:
Good article. I have not heard of micro fiction before. This article was educational for me. Thanks for sharing.
Elisabeth Meier on July 16, 2016:
This is already 2 years old and more actual than ever. Not only in the internet but have a look at commercials worldwide. Those which really grab the viewers are those with a story and with less product presentation. Intelligence is demanded and to get people by their emotions.
Further, instead of reading long instructions for something people watch a tutorial video online or the better a short explainer-video.
I always loved short stories as they make me think. They inspire or activate my fantasy. It's great to read novels in the length of Gone With The Wind, but it's more fun to read shorts. This is why I as a screenwriter decided to concentrate more on short films.
A short film can have the length of a commercial up to maximum 60 minutes. Usually the rule of thumb is to keep it under 45 minutes as tv series are 45-60 minutes long. One page is one minute on screen so the length of a script already tells the length of the film.
But also in tv series you can already find a trend to shrink. I think if you cut out all commercials a tv series like Mike & Molly actually has only 30 minutes.
In cinema the trend is still 90-120 minutes or 3 hours and more. Hollywood likes the Epos. The audience obviously too.
Kellie Landi from Not anwhere in particular but somewhere.... on May 05, 2014:
I think sometimes it also has to do with the attention span of people. I don't think they want to commit to something longer and if you notice news articles are even shorter than what they used to be. I like writing flash fiction but I do believe it is more challenging.
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on March 18, 2014:
Thank you for this great article. I never thought about that today shorter flash fiction would be more popular to read for many people than the lengthy novels of more than 400 pages, but it does make sense in our hectic world. I still favor to get to bed with a thick book. I like to get stuck into a novel for at least a few days! Thanks for the bubblews tip I will give that a go. I have bookmarked your blog for tomorrow read.
Josh Rose from Massachussetts on December 21, 2013:
Thanks for posting this! I was starting to feel a bit bad because most other writers I know like to write long stories, and even novels! But then I like shorter, more direct stories. Glad to know this is actually a "thing". :)
jambo87 on September 07, 2013:
Good article. Thanks for all the resources.