On WritingBeing concise can be beautiful. Take the piece of spoke poetry below. It’s not long. It’ll take you less than 3 minutes to watch, but it’s oh-so punchy.

Your stories don’t have to be long to be powerful. They don’t have to rival War and Peace to convey messages just as weighty. There’s no yard stick by which stories are judged. You don’t have to be ‘this tall’ to ride.

The message is what matters. (Sorry. I’ve been on a kick about that lately.) If it takes 100 words to convey the message, then that’s how long your story should be. If it takes 100K, make some coffee. You’ve got a lot of writing to do.

My point is this: be true to what your story requires, not some abstract notion of what length makes for ‘real fiction’. There’s no such thing.

Oh, and here’s that poem I mentioned. Take 3 minutes to watch it. It’s well worth your time.


About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

6 Responses to minimal

  1. I can’t watch the poem here at work, but what you said rang true for me. I have a good friend/writing partner, and we’ve been debating this very thing lately. Usually I tend to run long (my first completed novel was 106k words) and she tends to run short, but lately we’ve both been working at doing the opposite–she’s writing a novella that wants very much to be a novel, and I’ve been practicing short stories of 1500 words or less. It’s difficult to learn to break out of your usual habits, but you’re absolutely right when you say that the story should dictate its own length. It’s in keeping with the notion that your characters also won’t always be what you think they will–they are who they are, and in part you discover them as you go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dex says:

      I love your thoughts on this, as well as your dedication to exploring a different approach. When I started writing flash fiction, it was totally new to me, but it taught me to be concise and to-the-point like I had never been before. Plus, it was fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dumanae says:

    I love that spoken word 21.
    On a darker journey:
    Her body lay as if resting from vigiorous exercise. Almost idlely I wondered where her head was…then i stared at the doll house and the doll house stared at me.

    The story makes all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh, heart-twister. Poor kid.

    Yes, I agree with your point and I’d like to think that for most sincere writers, it’s usually more the story that dictates length rather than trying to write 100K words to be taken seriously.

    Having said that, Flash Fiction has been invaluable in honing my skills when it comes to determining which words are the ‘good’ ones.


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