6 words, 25 words, 600 words, 130 characters: it all appeals to me.
I'm trying to finish the first draft of a novel. In order to focus on it, I haven't taken on any freelance projects; I'm trying not to start new short stories except to write down what the voices I hear are saying. But it is hard for me to resist the really short stuff. When I saw NPR's call for 3-minute fiction, I was intrigued and wrote something that is more like 1-minute fiction (225 words). A Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction 25 words? You bet! I'm intrigued by Creative Nonfiction's twitter-call for 130-character stories that they can retweet. And I've written a few six-word memoirs (Smith Magazine), which for some reason tend to be aggressive. (You want my kidney? Take it!)
These small forms are my biggest temptation because they are my true passion.
It isn't just because I feel pretty confident when I write them, or that I feel less confident when developing longer works. I've written 10,000 word short stories and fairly long magazine articles. Though the novel is going slowly, I like where it's headed and most days feel pretty sure it won't end up like other novels I've started but not finished. But the flash, the micro, whatever you want to call it, never fails to excite me.
I was just listening to James Wood talk about the NPR 3-minute stories he's been reading. To demonstrate what he considers their strength, he reads excerpts aloud (the stories are so short, why not just read the whole thing?). And in every case so far, he mentions the details of the story. He's right, of course, that the details have to deliver. But when I read flash fiction, it's usually for the voice and for what is not revealed.
I am a voice-driven writer (and reader), which helps me understand why I struggle with plot. Taking a break from the novel to write 25 words or 130 characters gives me a chance to play with voice and story without worrying too much about plot. What I am realizing in writing this is that perhaps I am burdening plot with a too serious approach. It probably likes to play, too. I think I'll go find out.