Less Is More

Who likes short shorts? 

How short can a story be and still be a story?  The term flash fiction (aka microfiction, sudden fiction, postcard fiction, prosetry, short short story) originated in the early 1990s, but has roots going back as far as Aesop and his fables.  Some flash fiction has an exact word count – the drabble is exactly 100 words, the 69er just 69 (the title is extra).  In this fast-paced world, sometimes there’s only time for the shortest reads.  Try these suggestions for proof that less is often more, and check http://www.365tomorrows.com/about/ for a new piece each day.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs from Smith Magazine (2008)
For sale – “wedding dress worn once by mistake.” Every sentence here has six words. Almost the shortest of the short.  Could be shorter by five words.  Thoughtful, funny, perceptive, sad, brilliant, inspired.  No space to say very much.  Try writing your own wee memoir.  Six words only though, remember that. 

Novels In Three Lines by Felix Feneon (2007)
“On the bowling lawn a stroke leveled M. Andre, 75, of Levallois.  While his ball was still rolling he was no more.”  That’s just one of this book’s 1000+ short news items/novels that appeared in the French newspaper Le Matin in 1906.  Feneon was a Parisian anarchist and art critic who wrote these true stories of murder, mayhem, and ordinary life and submitted them anonymously. Some are gruesomely clever. Not recommended for the faint of heart.

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions From Ordinary Lives compiled by Frank Warren (2005)
As part of a community art project, Frank Warren handed out postcards for people to write down a secret.  The response was enormous – people from around the world sent him cards that are funny, shocking, tragic, personal and powerful.  It’s art and psychotherapy on a 3×5 card.

Field Guide To Writing Flash Fiction edited by Tara Masih (2009)Really interesting!  Brief essays on writing the short short story from editors, teachers and writers.  Each chapter is a gem in itself, plus the good advice. Did you realize that Rip van Winkle is considered the original American short short? Soon everybody from Edgar Allan Poe to Louisa May Alcott was on board.

Flash Fiction Forward edited by James Thomas and Robert Shapiro (2006)
80 of the best flashes from American writers in the 21st century.  The editors wanted stories that were short and good, but also memorable.  Running the gamut from simply spare to fabulously funny, these are each a small treasure.

~Ellen F., Central Library

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