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You, Me, and the Microfiction Under Your Bed

A colorful book with a man's screaming face on it - half normal appearance, the other half bloody, skin disintegrating, with broken teeth, held up next to a brindle dog
Though Ripley does look terrified, no dogs were scared in the taking of this photo

If you’re a writer or close to a lot of writing circles, you’ve probably heard a word start to pop up in more recent years. To some, it brings fear, while to others it breeds trepidation, but you

might be lucky enough to find yourself left with only one simple question about it. What the heck is microfiction? Well, don’t you worry, your unofficial pal Radar is here, not only to answer your question, but give you tips on how you can become a microfiction writing

aficionado.


So, let’s start with a basic definition of microfiction, that way we at least know what it is. Though there’s no concrete definition for it yet, most would agree microfiction is a term for stories that are under 300 words. If you’ve ever heard of a drabble (a story that is exactly 100 words) that would be considered microfiction. However, for yours truly, I tend to stick to

extremely short microfiction (we’re talking 2 to 5 sentences long). Now I’ve heard a lot of people say that microfiction is so much harder than regular-length stories, and for that I say,

"Poppycock!" It’s no harder than any other type of fiction, you just have to practice at it until you get something you’re happy with.


Now, I recently put together a collection of 365 microfictions, so I happen to have a few tips I picked up while doing that and I’m happily going to pass them on to you. First things first,

you can’t be wordy. I know that’s a hard ask. Writers love their words and it fills us with joy to bust out a varied vernacular for our narratives. Unfortunately, you don’t have that luxury with microfiction. In fact, you don’t even have room for filler words since this kind of narrative is so short, which leads me to my next tip. Your sole focus should be telling a compelling story with as few words as possible. That means: no character backstory, basically no world-building, and

unfortunately there’s not much room for description either.


I’m sure my tips haven’t been too uplifting for you but don’t worry, we’re not done yet. For this final section, let’s walk through building a microfiction together. Now the first, and one of the most important steps in the process, is deciding what story you want to tell. Let’s say we want to tell the story of a man who gets lured into the kitchen of his home by something sinister.

Bingo! Our first step is finished. Now, let’s focus on figuring out what the main points of our narrative are going to be. For me, I would break it down into three parts:


  1. Man goes into the kitchen

  2. Realizes something is off

  3. Finds something sinister waiting for him

I’m going to make things a little challenging for myself, and I’m going to only give myself one or two sentences for each part, so let's start with part number one. For this part, I want to say that he’s going into the kitchen, but, I also want to say why or what is motivating him to do so. The latter will only take a few extra words, while also giving a bit more detail on what is going on. So, I wracked my brain for a couple of minutes and came up with this sentence:


Tony eagerly hustled to the kitchen, lured there by the unmistakable scent of his wife’s

blueberry pie.


Now on to part two. For this section of the story, I want to explain that Tony realizes something is off while hinting that it might be too late for him to do anything about it. A few more minutes of puzzling and I spit out this:


It wasn’t until he had crossed the threshold into the kitchen that he remembered his wife

was out on a business trip, so who made the pie?


Here we are, the final part. It’s time to bring it on home with a solid finish. Of course, we could flourish things with a twist ending, but I think I’ll keep things simple with this:


The answer to his question stood in the middle of the room, licking its lips as it stared at

him with ravenous, inhuman eyes.


Finally, let’s put all the parts together to reveal the full thing.


Tony eagerly hustled to the kitchen, lured there by the unmistakable scent of his wife’s

blueberry pie. It wasn’t until he had crossed the threshold into the kitchen that he remembered

his wife was out on a business trip, so who made the pie? The answer to his question stood in the

middle of the room, licking its lips as it stared at him with ravenous, inhuman eyes.


And there you have it! A microfiction in just a few sentences. You’ve got yourself a template to start experimenting with and form your own extremely short fiction. Now get out

there and write something spooky!



Thank you to Radar for putting this together for us! Make sure you check out A YEAR SPENT IN HORROR, reviewed by Angel 💚

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