On Saturday, I put out a poll on Twitter (hint: you should follow me on Twitter) asking peeps what kind of post they’d like to read on Penprints today, and of the three options presented, they favored a post about brief fiction.
Now, my feelings on brief fiction are quite strong (translation: I should probably calm down a little because they’re a wee bit too strong), but as I settled in to write out my thoughts on brief fiction I realized that I need to clarify some terms before diving in. Hence this post about classifying fiction by its length (i.e. – wordcount).
So, here’s a tiny post to lay out some common definitions of the various kinds of fiction.
Micro-fiction (which also goes by the names Postcard Fiction, Sudden Fiction, and Nano Fiction depending on who you’re talking to) is about as tiny as it gets without getting ridiculous. We’re talking 100 words or less. Yeah, it’s basically a blink, or better yet, just a spastic eye-twitch (you know those ones you get when you’re way past tired).
Here’s a piece of micro-fiction by Just B. Jordan that was published over on The Lightning Blog.
Flash fiction (or the short short story) is right on the heels of its younger micro-fiction sibling. At 1,000 words or less, flash fiction is a flash-bang grenade designed to hit hard and fast.
Here’s a flashfic (that’s slang for flash fiction) by the fabulous Katie Grace
Short stories are where things begin to get a little more complicated and require a little more commitment than the leaner likes of micro and flash fiction that you can read in the line at a grocery store. It can take an entire lunch break to polish off a short story that ranges from 1,000-7,500 words.
Here’s a short story from Just B. Jordan on her blog.
And now we come to the beginnings of the novel’s family. Novelette’s are like those kids who never really grew out of that gangly, lanky phase and somehow have a size eleven foot, arms that are too long for any normal shirt, and most likely an intolerance to gluten. Now, I’m not saying this to be mean; I’m just saying that it’s quite hard for a novelette to fit into blogs or magazines or books because they range from 7,500 to 20,000 words. The best hope for a novelette is typically an anthology of some sort.
Five Enchanted Roses is a prime example of an anthology of novelettes.
Novellas are the more filled-out brothers to novelettes. Ranging between 20,000 and 50,000 words, novellas are ideal e-books and $0.99 buys for your Kindle. They’re not quite as demanding as a novel and can be read in one night, a fairly quick but still lengthy fiction fix.
Personally, I recommend A Wish Made of Glass by Ashlee Willis (it’s like reading poetry but better) or The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson..
At last, we come to the famed (perhaps overrated?) novel. From here on out, the sky is the limit. And I mean that literally. Novels are 50,000 words up to infinity and beyond. Now, some make the distinction between novels and sequels/epics, but I find this to be pointless personally. There are some wordcount distinctions made from genre to genre, but since that’s a genre thing, I won’t get into it here. So, novels can be 55,000 words. Or 89,000 words. Or 111,000 words. Or 230,000 words. (Note: marketability will plummet as your wordcount rises for a debut novel.)
And that, kids, is the brief introduction to next week’s post will be all about my (very strong) thoughts on brief fiction. So stay tuned.
How long are some of your writing projects? What’s the longest thing you’ve ever written? What’s the shortest thing you’ve ever written? Do you think it takes more skill to write a meaningful micro-fiction than it takes to write a 130k novel?
P.S. – don’t ask me what these wordcounts work out to when it comes to the number of pages; that’s all dependent on formatting, dialogue vs. description, etc..
P.P.S. – you should like my Facebook page to get updates on my secret (and wildly exciting) project.
~ Rosalie out. <3