Friday, 2 December 2011

Micro-Fiction (Fractured West)

What is micro-fiction? In an article I wrote recently for Leaf Writers' Magazine ( I defined it as "an interesting and well-constructed story in 500 words or less". Micro-fiction or flash fiction as it is sometimes known, has become extremely popular and I must admit to being quite a fan of both reading and writing it.

So I was really pleased to receive the latest issue of Fractured West ( which is an extremely professional looking magazine described by the editors as "an independent not-for-profit literary magazine publishing the most exciting short fiction by new and emerging writers round the world".

I've only had time to skim through my copy but from what I've seen so far, there looks to be some really interesting and original stuff including one thought-provoking story which is only 36 words long. I'm looking forward to reading it in depth and hopefully submitting something soon. The editors seem very approachable and open to submissions especially from new and unpublished writers (although most of the contributors in this issue were from outside the UK) and there are helpful submission guidelines on the website.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share my tips on writing micro-fiction with you. Let me know if you have any of your own to add.

1. Start from scratch. Don't re-work an existing longer story as successful micro-fiction needs a life of its own.
2. Give your story a really strong opening as you only have one or two sentences at the most to grab the reader.
3. Remember that it has to be a story, not an anecdote or a monologue. You still need the three Cs: central character, conflict and conclusion.
4. Because you have such a limited word count, accept that lots of elements of your story will need to be implied.
5. Count words on hard copy as many times as you can, especially for competitions where the word count is crucial.
6. Don't think (as I often do!) that you can just dash off a piece of micro-fiction because it is so short. The shorter the story, the more you need to get it right.

Good luck with your own micro-fiction. I'm off to read Fractured West and try to put my tips into practice.


  1. Great tips. I write a lot of flash fiction, mostly because I'm too lazy to write anything longer. But I am guilty of re-working longer pieces, which I really shouldn't do because you always lose something in the process. Actually, as you say, it's not exactly a breeze writing short pieces since you have to cram a lot into a few words. You can always shave out a few more, though. I'm astonished at how wordy I can be!

  2. Thanks Vanessa. I'm glad you found my tips useful. I also suffer greatly from wordiness but I love the discipline of flash fiction and like you, can hardly bear to write anything else!