Micro Fiction


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Thread: Micro Fiction

  1. #1

    Micro Fiction

    An anthology I'm eyeing up is calling for 200 word short stories in the science fiction genre. Not totally sure if I'm going to write anything for it, but I'm intrigued by the idea. I'm good with flash (1000 words) and familiar with those (dopey, IMO) 'twitter stories', but 200 words in something like science fiction, which typically requires some room to develop a concept, seems mental.

    I have some ideas and wasn't fishing for suggestions but was wondering if anybody had any opinions or experiences with writing this sort of thing? How in the hell do you write a short story in that word count that in any way satisfies the needs of something like science fiction? This strikes me as almost impossible to do well. Like, what sort of form would stories like that take that wouldn't knock it over 200 words with the slightest explanation of an idea?

    *I did find a website (http://200wordshortstory.org/) that has examples of this and I can see how the form works, but I didn't come across any SF in the examples.*
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

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  2. #2
    I've dabbled in micro-fiction and my only real tip is to aim for a singular tone or mood with your piece. You won't have space to expand upon the science details, as you've already noted.

    The science is just there to serve the story. To create a setting, perhaps. Or to serve as a catalyst for the conflict. Or however you choose to use science.

    Two future astronauts caught in a situation where they must decide which one of them gets the last remaining oxygen tank, for example. The tone would be urgency, or grief, or whatever you want. Aim for a single, dominant feeling that holds the 200 words together.

    I'd also suggest using shortcuts—tropes that are already accepted in sci fi. You don't need to explain how a spaceship functions, for example. Just the mention of a spaceship zipping through space implies that it works. Stuff like that.

  3. #3
    I managed a 300-word effort once which was any genre I wished. I could have jiggled around to bring it under the sci-fi umbrella. But 300 and 200 words are different beasts, I feel. I reckon it's doable, but would have to be cut to the bone and any sci-fi concepts implied rather than explained.
    I might have a go at one now I've read this


  4. #4
    I used to enter a certain magazines contest all the time. The winners always had some kind of change in perspective, like a joke: A woman has a difficult time putting on her make up, and then gets out of her wrecked car... that sort of thing.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle R View Post
    Two future astronauts caught in a situation where they must decide which one of them gets the last remaining oxygen tank, for example. The tone would be urgency, or grief, or whatever you want. Aim for a single, dominant feeling that holds the 200 words together.
    Totally true, though I think that the winners in these things usually change the feeling or perspective at the last line. Imagine two dudes floating in space, and one is texting the other, trying to get him to kill himself. She doesn't love you. We are stuck out here forever. Dah dah dah. So the guys takes off his helmet, and then the other dude quickly attaches himself to the remaining oxygen or something.

    Or alternately, they are talking to one another about who should get it, and they are being super polite even though they are dying. No no, after you. No sir, after you. So one decides to give up the O2 and dies, and then the other walks into a plasma fire and is horribly burned saving the ship.

  6. #6
    Adding a surprise twist to the end—I like it!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCalliganWrites View Post
    Totally true, though I think that the winners in these things usually change the feeling or perspective at the last line. Imagine two dudes floating in space, and one is texting the other, trying to get him to kill himself. She doesn't love you. We are stuck out here forever. Dah dah dah. So the guys takes off his helmet, and then the other dude quickly attaches himself to the remaining oxygen or something.

    Or alternately, they are talking to one another about who should get it, and they are being super polite even though they are dying. No no, after you. No sir, after you. So one decides to give up the O2 and dies, and then the other walks into a plasma fire and is horribly burned saving the ship.
    It would work as a short, but two hundred words? This is giving you about twenty five words per line, so could a two line outline become an eight line story?

    How about straight dialogue.
    A summing up of a case of human rights today.
    What is human? Made in the image of God? Engages in philosophy? Conscious of self and rational? Or defined by its DNA as a species in the genus 'Homo'?. Gentlemen, a quick outline of the extremes as they have been put to us.
    The concept of God is widespread, but not universal, and varies wildly. What aspects do we represent?
    Would Homo Sapiens accept Erectus or Neanderthal, or any other of the half dozen or so 'human' species as being entitled to the same rights as us?
    When a person is in coma, kept alive by machines, we say they are in a vegetative state, a vegetable in common parlance. We do not deny their previous or their potential humanity, but for now others take the decisions about them and they are treated as objects, very special objects, but objects.
    Surely the ability to be aware of self, to philosophise, to be rational, is the key. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client, The artificial intelligence known as ASROD claims its human rights.

    I have not counted , but I reckon under two hundred words. I went for a simple idea, a machine wanting to be human and what that is, as my starting point.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    It would work as a short, but two hundred words? This is giving you about twenty five words per line, so could a two line outline become an eight line story?

    How about straight dialogue.
    A summing up of a case of human rights today.
    What is human? Made in the image of God? Engages in philosophy? Conscious of self and rational? Or defined by its DNA as a species in the genus 'Homo'?. Gentlemen, a quick outline of the extremes as they have been put to us.
    The concept of God is widespread, but not universal, and varies wildly. What aspects do we represent?
    Would Homo Sapiens accept Erectus or Neanderthal, or any other of the half dozen or so 'human' species as being entitled to the same rights as us?
    When a person is in coma, kept alive by machines, we say they are in a vegetative state, a vegetable in common parlance. We do not deny their previous or their potential humanity, but for now others take the decisions about them and they are treated as objects, very special objects, but objects.
    Surely the ability to be aware of self, to philosophise, to be rational, is the key. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client, The artificial intelligence known as ASROD claims its human rights.

    I have not counted , but I reckon under two hundred words. I went for a simple idea, a machine wanting to be human and what that is, as my starting point.
    Pretty sweet, thanks for sharing!

    I took a crack. I just wanted to try showing a worsening of perspective. It was originally 200 words but it ran over since I got interested in it and did some editing. Whatever.

    The sub-light cruiser’s narrow profile provided scant shade from the type-g star. Sam folded his body into the shadow, but the temperature reading on his HUD read 478.94K, and that was a problem; their spacesuits could only handle so much. He wished he could wipe the sweat from his eyes.

    Temperature wasn’t the most pressing of his problems. Leah floated between him and the ship and released her grip on the plasma torch. It drifted beside her, still tethered to the open supply cabinet on the hull.

    “Getting hot,” said Leah.

    “Yup.” Pain needled his face. Another bad sign.

    “Five percent on my O2 tank,” said Leah.

    “I’m out.” Sam paced his breathing in long, calm intervals to save what was left.

    She looked him in the eye. He hadn’t realized how pale she was. Leah trembled, and a pit of fear sank in his own stomach.

    “Take my air,” she said.

    Fuck. He couldn’t blame her for tapping out early.

    Sam pressed his eyes shut, then attached his tank to hers. Didn’t make her wait. Bled her dry. She seemed calm as she sucked her own C02.

    He squeezed her hand to say goodbye, then pulled against it to propel himself toward the lethal radioactive leak that was killing his crew, his final chance to put it out. Painful stings burst through his body as he neared the damaged panel.


    Last edited by JohnCalliganWrites; December 13th, 2019 at 10:24 PM.

  9. #9
    Sorry, I said dialogue, I meant monologue. I was out in the kitchen thinking about it while I made a cuppa. It could be a monologue of the last man left as he faces the aliens coming to get him and determines to take as many with him as possible, then switch to the other side discussing this last alien they have just killed, tough little bugger. Leave the reader wondering which were the humans and which the aliens.
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  10. #10
    " I like it, but I don’t get it." - Megan WF April LM Challenge

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