One Year to a Writing Life–Lesson #4

Short Stories and the Short-Short?

What?  When I hear “short-short” my mind leaps to that old Nair commercial but apparently a “short-short” is actually a really, really, really short story–the story in them is “suddenly there.”  To be more specific, the short-short is between 800 and 2000 words but there’s also something called flash fiction that’s even shorter–less than 800 words.  

How does this work?  Hmm.  Tiberghien claims that it’s all down to crisis.  There’s situation, character reaction, and then a moment of revelation–though no resolution.  It’s the short story on steroids. 

The short story is, argues Tiberghien, all down to character and action.  It is like the “subject and verb in a sentence.”  The short story can be reduced to three basic parts:

  • the beginning:  the kick-off that gets the protagonist moving, giving her a need or goal
  • the middle:  the protagonist is struggling to fulfill this need
  • the end:  the epiphany–the fulfillment of the protagonists’ need

It seems like we’re coming to the same conclusion as we look at each of these different genres–good writing is good writing, regardless of the form.

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