Micromanagement: 4 Benefits of Writing Tiny

I’ve been writing Twitter microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag for roughly two months. This is my first experience writing at this very limited scale, and I’m finding it both fun and educational. I’m by no means an expert, but there is definite value in trying to cram a story into like 50 words. Here are a few of the benefits, as I see it, from writing microfiction.

  1. Savage self-editing. One of the best parts of writing microfiction, at least for me, is how it forces you to be utterly brutal and precise with word choice and sentence structure. What I mean is it’s largely an exercise of stripping an idea down to its bare bones so that that only the most vital words remain, and when you do it right, there’s a beautiful simplicity to the piece. Depending on the kind of fiction you write (and how you write it), that’s a skill that translates to longer works, from flash fiction to novels. I tend to have a fairly Spartan style anyway, and I find writing microfiction still forces me to knuckle down and make those hard choices (almost always for the better).
  2. Stretching your literary legs. If you’re writing microfiction based on a prompt like I’m doing, I think you’ll find yourself writing outside your comfort zone a lot. Yeah, I still fall back on my favorite horror genre tropes a fair amount, but I also find myself dipping a toe into other genres and even subjects approaching lit-fic (hell, I’ve even written a few limericks). That’s maybe not something I would attempt with a longer piece, but with micro I feel like I can experiment a little.
  3. Story seed generator. Look, it’s pretty difficult to write a complete story in 50 words (it is possible, though), but even if you don’t end up with a perfect micro, you might end up with a pretty solid idea that can be expanded into a longer piece. I’ve written something like fifty or sixty micros over the last few months, and I’m already developing two of them into longer stories. What’s better, they’re both a little different than what I usually write (back to point two) and might let me hit some markets my work normally isn’t a good fit for.
  4. Easy to share. Obviously, I’m writing microfiction on Twitter, so every piece is getting shared to the folks who follow me. That’s a big benefit because it’s an opportunity to potentially let a lot of people see my work in easy bite-sized chunks. It has also introduced me to a fantastic group of writers and THEIR awesome work. Let me tell you, there are some supremely talented folks writing microfiction on Twitter under the #vss365 hashtag (and others), and I strongly urge you to head out there and take a look.

Again, I’m no expert on microfiction, but in just a short amount of time I’ve found the practice of writing tiny to be immensely beneficial. I plan to keep at it on a daily basis, and if you’d like to follow my microfiction journey, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Do you write microfiction? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments.

A Month of Microfiction: March 2019

In late February I started writing daily Twitter microfiction under the #vss365 hashtag (that’s very short stories). I’ve had a real blast writing these things, and the prompts have been fun and challenging. I’ve been a flash fiction writer for a long time, but I’d never attempted micro because, frankly, I was intimidated by the tiny word counts. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to dive in because micro is an excellent exercise in stripping an idea down to the frame so it still makse sense with the bare minimum of words. I think that’s a great skill for any writer to work on.

Anyway, I thought I’d round up my month’s work and put it on the blog. You’ll notice a hashtagged word in each of these stories–it’s just the prompt word we had to use for that day. As for quality, it’s kind of a mixed bag. I think there are some real gems in here, some pretty good ones, and a fair amount of, well, kinda mediocre ones. If you’d like to read my microfiction in real time, just follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Oh, and on some days I wrote two micros. The first of the two is the one I actually published.


March, 1st 2019

You can’t #escape the past. You can run, sure, but your old life? It’ll catch up, eventually, with names, faces, bodies. When it finds you, it doesn’t give a shit you’ve turned over a new leaf. And when the past speaks, it sounds a lot like a gun cocking in your ear.

March, 2nd 2019

I don’t watch Lucky work. It creeps me out. My job is talking, his is making people receptive to talking.

He comes out of the garage, wiping blood from his knuckles, that weird satisfied look on his face. “You’re up.”

“Can he still talk?”

Lucky shrugs. “He can #listen.”

March, 3rd 2019

I wake next to the ceiling, sigh, and struggle to #orient myself. These out of body experiences are becoming more frequent. I stare down at my body: gray, joints twisted, heart a thready echo of youth long past. I think the old pile of meat is trying to tell me something.

March, 4th 2019

The apocalypse taught me to #improvise, to use brains and instincts I never knew I had. Every tin can is a way to collect rain water, every rusted-out old car potential shelter, and every person I meet . . . Well, let’s just say I can “improvise” the taste of chicken.

March, 5th 2019

Up close, you can’t #overlook the details. The bulge of a Kevlar vest, the way a mark moves if he’s strapped, the wary gait of a man who knows he’s a target. The world is safer through a scope, and at three-hundred yards, it’s just pull the trigger, lights out, get paid.

March, 6th 2019

“Drink, Eva,” Ivan said.

“No, the red stuff is yucky.”

Nadia sighed. “Ivan, for a vampire you are oddly unpersuasive.”

“I’m open to suggestions.” Nadia went outside and returned with a snowball.

“Who wants snowcones?”

“Me! Me!” Eva said.

“Ivan, the cherry #syrup, please.”

March, 7th 2019

1) The catcher smirks as I step into the box. He’s a young guy, his big league dreams still intact. I know what he thinks. Why do I keep playing? The pitch sails in, and the crack of the bat gives me the same answer it has for eleven minor-league seasons. I #belong here.

2) The house didn’t #belong in Miller’s Field. It sat alone, more ruins than home, its broken windows promising darkness and dust. We found the foundations of other houses, almost invisible beneath the weeds, chewed to concrete stumps. The old house loomed over the carcasses.#vss365

March, 8th 2019

I once believed #she needed a shield from the world and its darkness. I was a fool, blind to the scars she bore from past battles hard-fought and hard-won. The mighty have no need of champions. Now I fight beside her, beneath her banner, and I am stronger for it.

March, 9th 2019

Frankie “Ice Cream” was the #epitome of a good guy and a good hitter. He gave his marks Ben & Jerry’s. A sweet end, he called it. But a good guy can be a good hitter only so long. Frankie quit with an empty pint of B&J in his lap and one of his own bullets in his skull.

March, 10th 2019

His letters always ended with an ellipsis. The dates and names before that were things we already knew, horrors we’d already found. We studied them, as we had to, but what kept me awake at night wasn’t the awful details. It was the terrible promise of that dot, dot, #dot.

March, 11th 2019

Cooper called his pearl-handled Colt Peacemaker “Fool’s End.” He’d swagger into a saloon, pick some tough talker with iron on his hip and jostle him, maybe spill his drink. Then Cooper’d smile and wait, hoping the fool would test a #quick temper against quicker hands.

March, 12th 2019

Dr. Keller asked me to draw my nightmares. He said the first #sketch–all whorls and spikes–was good progress. The second, clearer, the face more real, scared him. By the third, he begged me to stop. By the fifth, they took him away. Now I can sleep, and I do not dream.

March, 13th 2019

Most headhunters end up zombie chow in the first month. They go in, guns blazing, and draw the horde down on their heads. I take a different #approach. I follow the rookies with my rifle, wait for ’em to do something stupid, and then make sure the new zombie dies first.

March, 14th 2019

I found a #pocket universe in an old pair of jeans. It ate my iPhone and twenty-six bucks before I realized what it was. When Jack kicked in my door to collect his money, I showed him what I’d found. Now he gets to visit another dimension one pocket-sized bit at a time.

March, 15th 2019

1) People say they #crave adventure, but that’s bullshit. They want the idea of adventure, the Hollywood version of being lost in the jungle or shooting bad guys. When you’re ten days without food in the Amazon or plugging bullet holes with your socks, you just crave home.

2) If you’re human and you #crave BBQ chips or pickles, you just run out to the store and get some. When you’re undead, and you crave the brains of a painter (tastier memories), you have to wait outside art galleries in the dark with a hammer and an ice cream scoop.

March, 16th 2019

When death came for me, I refused to go. So it asked me a #question. “When should I return?” Like a fool, I said never. That was a long, long time ago, and now I spend the endless stretch of years asking my own question. “Where is death?” I’ve yet to get an answer.

March, 17th 2019

He called his fists shock and #awe. He’d ask me which I wanted. I went with awe because his left was weaker. MMA taught me to use my own weapons, and when I came home the last time, he didn’t understand the change. I didn’t ask which he wanted. I just gave him everything.

March, 18th 2019

The deep space probe sent back a series of #cryptic messages, each different than the last. I cracked one weeks later; it was simply the number 10. The next message was 9, then 8, then 7. The messages stopped after number 1. Now we watch the skies, tremble, and wait.

March, 19th 2019

A guy came to the bar with a gun in his belt. He was real nice and offered his services for our #mutual benefit and protection. It sounded like a good idea to me, but Nick packed his bags that same night. When I asked why, he said, “Hey, Joey, who protects us from HIM?”

March, 20th 2019

He does his job under a #pseudonym. Sometimes he goes by cancer, or stroke, or heart attack; other times he’s car accident, killed in action, or simply victim. No matter what he calls himself today, his true name is writ large and bold across each of our frail bodies.

March, 21st 2019

A demon walked into Lucifer’s office with an idea.

“I’ve invented a way to #magnify human evil so it’s easier for them to be terrible to each other,” the demon said.

“Wonderful! What’s it called?”

“That’s the best part. It sounds harmless. I call it ‘social media.'”

March, 22nd 2019

Murder is a #riddle. The blood and bodies are clues to the who and why. Killers always obfuscate their horrors, all except the one we called the Headhunter. He took pride in his work, and he didn’t leave riddles. He left a statement in red, “Come and get me if you dare.”

March, 23rd 2019

1) How do you end a killer’s career without getting killed? A little #sabotage goes a long way. I soldered bullet to casing in that stupid hand cannon Oleg uses. Did it work? I wasn’t around when the gun went boom, but I’m told blind, one-handed hitmen aren’t in high demand.

2) He began his career with a gun. When it got too easy, he used a knife. After that, he just strangled his hits, and we thought we’d seen the pinnacle of the hitman’s art. Then they found Jimmy Moretti, eyes wide, mouth open, not a mark on him, literally scared to death. #satsplat

The second one here was actually a different Twitter microfiction hashtag–#satsplat

March, 24th 2019

I was a #thorn in his side. Only irritating at first, a tiny obstacle he pushed aside to get to my mother. He didn’t fear me for a long time, but the day came when he swung his fist and drew it back slashed and bloody. He’d failed to notice how big and sharp I’d become.

March, 25th 2019

The #frame is cracked, the photo faded, but I can clearly see the family who lived here. What’s left of them shambles toward me through the ruins of their house, and I go to work. When it’s done, I reload, and put the picture on the bodies. I say a prayer and burn it all.

March, 26th 2019

1) I was eight feet tall when the docs installed an implant to #inhibit my growth. When I hit fifteen feet, they tried another. At fifty feet, they started getting nervous. At five hundred feet, the army paid me a visit. I didn’t want to be a monster, but a man’s gotta eat.

2) We tried to #inhibit its growth, but it spread so quickly. We threw science and reason at it, tried to arm the population with facts. They didn’t want facts; they wanted chemtrails and ancient aliens and a flat earth. We watched, helpless, as ignorance devoured the world. #vss365

March, 27th 2019

As a child, I looked through the #keyhole at the door of my grandfather’s study and saw a vast alien world stretching beneath an emerald sky. He told me it was where he came from. After the funeral, the keyhole showed only dust and books. The magic had gone home with him.

March, 28th 2019

He #collects and cultivates misery, sowing dark seeds with targeted vitriol. His foul words take root and spread, tiny flowers of hatred nurtured by dogged malice. For a fleeting moment he has power, malign purpose, and something to fill the yawning abyss in his soul.

March 29th, 2019

“You don’t need your #robe. Just grab the paper,” she said. Why did I listen? I had it coming, of course. Revenge for the Saran Wrap on the toilet seat. Now I stand in front of a locked door, naked, shaking my head and grinning like an idiot. I’ve finally met my match.

March 30th, 2019

1) The #second time we tried to summon the devil, it almost worked. We used the right kind of blood–goat not pig–and Doug got most of the incantation right. But he fucked it up at the end because he still can’t say that one word. Christ, Doug, it’s BLASPHEMY not BLASMEPHY.

2) When it comes to that final decision, most folks can’t pull the trigger, swing the bat, or thrust the knife in the crucial #second. They freeze up, grow a conscience. That’s why I get paid. I’m not the strongest or the toughest, but I can make that decision. Every time.

March 31st, 2019

Some say I have the soul of a #poet. It’s true. I keep it in a jar on a shelf above my desk. It comes in handy when I can’t think of a good word. I just shake the jar like a magic eight ball, and after a short poem about some guy from Nantucket, the perfect word appears.


And that’s my March microfiction. If you have a favorite or two, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. There might be a longer tale in some of these scribbles.

A Week of Writing: 2/18/19 to 2/24/19

Another week in the trenches, and other week of submissions, rejections, and miscellaneous literary endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quotes comes from, uh, *checks notes* Wayne Gretzky?

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

– Wayne Gretzky

This is a quote from the greatest hockey player to put on skates (I know that, and I’m not even a hockey fan), but, damn, does it apply to just about everything, including writing. I send out a lot of submissions–one-hundred and twenty last year–and those are, well, shots I’m taking. They don’t all score, of course, but each time I send a submission I have a chance of acceptance. If I don’t submit, I have zero chance. The writing and submission gig can be a tough one. Rejections are as common as weeds, and some of them have thorns. They WILL get you down, and that’s okay, but you still gotta take those shots. Just ask Wayne Gretzky. His career shooting percentage was 17.6%, so even he missed a few, and, hey, they still call him The Great One.

The Novel

My next revisions of Late Risers is on hold while I finish a novella for Privateer Press. I wrote 8,000 words of it last week, and I’ll bust out another 8,000 to 10,000 this week.

Short Stories

It doesn’t get much slower than this, folks.

  • Submissions Sent: 0
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Yep, no submissions and a single rejection last week. I’m not exactly setting the world on fire in February. I did send a submission yesterday, and I’ll send a few more in the next day or so. That’ll put me up to 10 for the month, which keeps me on pace for 100 submissions for the year.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

2/20/19: A Week of Writing: 2/11/18 to 2/17/18

The usual weekly writing update.

2/22/19: The Rejection Archives: Rejection #84 (Personal)

Another entry into my Rejection Archives series. This one covers a personal rejection with excellent feedback.

Goals

I’ll finish up the first draft of my novella for Privateer Press this week, and then I’d like to get some short story submission out.

Very Short Stories

So, I’ve started writing microfiction on a daily basis on Twitter under the prompted hashtag #vss365. It’s a great exercise trying to fit a story into 280 characters and a hell of a lot of fun. I’m gonna start rounding up the weekly crop of scribbles on these updates. If you want to get these tiny tales in real time, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

February 23rd – Prompt: Lame

They call me a leg breaker, but that ain’t right. Bones hurt, but soft tissue remembers. A guy hears that meaty pop when I shred his ACL, and he knows he’s gonna hobble like a lame horse forever. If that don’t remind him what he’s done wrong, he’s always got another leg.

February 23rd – Prompt: Humble

The men who come for me with crosses and holy books are sinners in pride, Daddy says. He hurts them, and I’m always hungry after. I know it’s wrong to waste the Lord’s bounty, and Daddy makes what he calls humble pie. It’s warm and red and just what a growing girl needs.


How was your writing week? Tell me about it in the comments.