So, in my foray into the ‘Twitterverse’ to share my writing, I have been exposed to a new type of fiction. I’ve known about short stories of course, and the 100-word story that every teacher has subjected their class to every now and then. But micro fiction? What new torment is this?
At least that was what I thought. First, I came across @FictionMicro’s monster micro competition. I liked the idea but 18 words? How could I possibly convey an idea in that few words? Intrigued, I had a go. Within half an hour, I had three I rather liked. It made me practise what I preach in class; every word can be improved, you need to make every word count. When I write my WIP, I tend to waffle. Too much speech is one issue (ever since my attempt at an action adventure/sci-fi story in year 6 when my teacher asked if I’d ever thought of script writing) but I know on the first draft I’m just trying to get the ideas down on paper in time because my brain needs to vent them. Word choices aren’t always high on my list of priorities. Getting around to the redraft always takes a while so those flabby words are stuck there for at least a little while. With the micro fiction, you write and edit yourself instantly, immediately thinking about better, advanced, developed words (thanks thesaurus ;).
After my first venture into this monster micro competition, I found myself in the rabbit hole of the weekly and daily prompts set up by various groups on Twitter. All of a sudden, I found myself with a list of a few I wanted to keep an eye on. One day, I was so keen to make sure I didn’t miss one I was desperately fighting with mobile Twitter to submit when travelling as a passenger in a car. I enjoyed the prompt element as it didn’t require me to sit and stare at a screen waiting to come up with a spark. The spark was there, and I just had to see where it took me. In several situations, it took me into genres I had not managed to venture into before. I like sci-fi and I love steampunk but I feel like I haven’t got the stamina to sustain a long piece of fiction in these genres, so I haven’t tried. But with the micro fiction, I’ve managed to get an idea down for both these areas and I’ve liked them. I’ve seen some comments from others that their micro fiction has translated into a full story idea so perhaps if I continue experimenting in genre, I might manage a full story in a different vein one day.
And that was when I decided my class had gotten bored of 100-word stories. It took too long to plan or they wanted it perfect first time so no words got down on paper. Cue the 25-word story challenge! They went for it, tried their best but most were running out of words after the obligatory, ‘Once there was a monster who…’ opening. They started to flag so we paused and talked about the beauty of the micro story. You don’t have to set up every little detail. You don’t need to make every point so explicit that the reader has no work left to do. In fact, this is what we should be doing in our longer writing. Give the reader just enough and let their mind fill in the gaps, make the leaps; it will encourage them to come on the journey with us. So I gave an example and you could see the realisation dawn on their faces, ‘So you don’t have to introduce the monster?’ ‘No, you don’t even have to show the monster, just hint at the monster. The reader will do the rest.’ And that’s when I got some of the creepiest 25-word stories I have ever heard. Children who don’t start a story for 25 minutes were writing 4 or 5 micro stories right off the bat and I couldn’t get them to stop!
That was when I really comprehended how powerful they could be and how useful they were. They allow me to ‘warm up’ when I am writing a longer piece. They let me try out ideas that I’m not sure how they’ll play out. But what I have enjoyed the most is sharing them on Twitter and seeing responses. Knowing that people are reading them and, in some cases, liking them. I have been introduced to a wider range of writers and reading what they have done which is only inspiring me more. I must admit, the idea of this journey into the wider world was terrifying but so far, it has led to only good things, good practise and good people. And there we have it, I am now a micro fiction addict. My job doesn’t allow me to write every night and on the nights I can, my brain is often too exhausted but the micro fiction is making me write every day and I’ll even admit, I find myself looking forward to getting home and knocking a few together. So, head over to my feed, read a few, let me know what you think, tell me which prompts I should be following. And if you’re feeling adventurous have a go in the comments below! #facing fears