Microfiction to Short Story – Harder than It Looks, Part 2

by Bill Henderson


...Sometimes she’s with me, walking beside me, and the wind is blowing around us. I’m trying to tell her it’s not over, it doesn’t have to be, if maybe we could just turn everything around and go back.

We know her only as Sis. In “Driving Shades” she is the narrator’s dead sister: a “shade.”

Sis, who doesn’t exist in the original version, becomes the central focus of a plot that also didn’t exist. I needed her and the other characters I’ve created, just as I needed a central conflict or “problem” that set them into action. In order to build it out into a broader structure, I needed it to be “about” something. Sis doesn’t do much or say much, but she is what the central conflict evolves from and revolves around. She is what it’s all about.

When you write microfiction, you can dispense with story, even plot, because what matters is not what happens next, what that means, and where it leads. It’s about effect. In 100 words, or 140 characters (Twitterfiction), you are trying to surprise and delight the reader.

You’re on!––then, in a single flourish, it’s over.

Microfictions may suggest plot, but can rarely do more than just that: suggest.

Some folks like to say that Hemingway’s “For sale: Baby shoes. Never used,” is the shortest story in the English language. It’s not a story; rather, it suggests a story––or any number of stories, for that matter. But in fact it’s a microfiction, a very good one, and it does what all good microfictions do: creates an immediate and powerful effect and is over.

Read the full story. Click here.

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