i'm posting these to the discussion so they don't go to the main page. They've been submitted to a "hint fiction" anthology and I've been following the editor's tweets. Turns out he's very particular about anyone posting their submits to a blog or anything like that - yes, apparently he looks, and then he complains about it in tweets. I figured the discussion board would be less conspicuous. The rules are twenty-five words or less - which is a bitch. I like words, the way they tend to attract other words, and so short shorts are hard for me...these especially so.
A card in the mailbox of the strict professor: "Withdrawal: student
deceased." She remembers the name, the only essay in the stack she'll
DRESSED AS A CAT
The trick-or-treater says, "I lived here." The new homeowner
remembers writing, "Please forward," on the court summons (unpaid
child support). He offers chocolate.
There is something of the discipline and suggestiveness of Haiku in these 'hint' pieces. Perhaps our definition of story, while broad enough to include 'plotless' narratives, should be tempered by (at least) these two qualities.
Just FYI, he's on Fictionaut, too.
jeez, i hope i really don't come across like a tweeting nazi :-) ultimately if the story's great, the story's great, and it will have nothing to do whether or not it was posted on a blog, though i do appreciate your thoughtfulness posting them here.
Oh hi Robert...I didn't see you there. The tweets? If you hadn't tweeted I wouldn't have known to submit... I guess this will give you something else to tweet about. Welcome to Fn, and just in time. These groups are only days old.
I really enjoyed (i.e., drove myself crazy) trying to come up with stories tapping out at 25 words.
Incidentally, I should have written one about a man who drives himself crazy wanting to use the word "less" instead of "fewer" and settling, finally, on "under" before changing it to "tapping out" (apparently having watched too much of a particular "sport").
I need help.
For me, the 25-word cap wasn't as brutal as for others. I've had 140-character "stories" (hate the quotes but I know some don't think they're stories so I'm throwing out the quotes) and a number of stories in places like elimae that tap out at 40-50 words. I like the term hint fiction. Thanks for posting this John.
Matchbook seems like quite the happening office. I keep waiting to be told I'm no longer a member.
Mr. Minichillo's posts brought to mind an "issue" (it's not really an issue!) that has come up before me a few times, in a few different contexts, in relation to (what are we calling it now?) teensy-tiny fiction.
When I taught Samuel Johnson Is Indignant, my students seemed to feel that some of the stories worked better in tandem with other stories, and some worked very well all on their own (interestingly, the length of her stories - whether several paragraphs or one sentence long) did not seem to influence my students' opinions on this matter.
In the case of the stories Mr. Minichillo posted above, my opinion is a bit complicated. On the one hand, both stories feel complete to me, and work well on their own. But I do think something else, something good, happens when I read them together – something about each story’s sensibility seems to compliment the other story, and the experience of reading these pieces feels enriched as a result. Yet I don’t think they necessarily “worked better” when read together. I suppose this points to the fact that the experience of reading a single story by an author is different than the experience of reading a collection of stories by an author (the same goes for poetry, and visual art – viewing one Degas vs. viewing a room full of Degas). Mr. Irdell posted something about “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” in another thread – personally, that story works beautifully for me all on its own, but certainly its – what, its sadness? loneliness? horror? – would be heightened if read along with all the other stories and vignettes in In Our Time.
How to get at my question? Well, regardless of length, I think some stories do work better when paired with other stories by the same author. I guess I'm asking if you think this is more often true for very short stories, and why? I know when this is the case, when I see it (to paraphrase Mr. Stark’s comment in another thread), but am not always able to articulate the reason.
I don't think a story that works much better in tandem with other stories is necessarily inferior.
Wow Anjali. Thanks.
I have a feeling the groups will continue to provoke enlightening and enlightened discussions. This is a talented and well-educated group that grows every day. We're mindful of art and the traditions but also marginalized as "emerging writers."
To see the work seriously considered when we are often in the role of telling jokes is refreshing...
To answer, these stories operate the same way, they have obvious similarities, and seeing them side by side exposes their constrction, their artifice.
Would it matter if they were both true? In fiction it only matters that they "ring true," and their having happened is only cirumstantial. In fiction it's the prose that matters.
Perhaps in "hint fiction" what is hinted at, with baby shoes - is pathos, suffering, chance - all he mess that won't fit in a few semtences.
I deal primarily with the 140-character variety David mentions, though in many cases Nano and Hint Fiction are exactly the same thing.
One of the interesting, hard to qualify characteristics I look at is something Anjali alludes to: is its current length satisfying?
A lot of good hint fiction would make good "long" fiction. But if it's satisfying now, if you say, "Wow, that gets the job DONE" — well then we have something worth keeping just the way it is.
With ever shorter forms, a writer is forced to pick and choose the experience (s)he wants to capture. You can't jam compelling plot, characters, language, etc in a few words easily. The best kind may include components of everything fictionally "desirable," but in the end we must choose what serves the story most. It's this process of distillation that I often find compelling.
We're an online literary journal that publishes works of short, indeterminate prose and accompanying criticism. We feature one author every posting period (every two weeks). Every so often a question related to the form and function of fiction will be posted here for discussion.http://www.matchbooklitmag.com