I just finished judging short short fiction for the web site, erastosphere.com, http://www.ablemuse.com/erato/. Short shorts also answer to the name of flash, sudden fiction, skinnies, mini, micro. (The possibilities are endless, really).
As with other forms, there's no fixed definition, though a common denominator is length. But even that isn't settled-50 words? 100? 3,000? Hemingway wrote a story in six words and called it his best work: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Is six words enough?
It seems counterintuitive, but writing shorter is harder than writing something long. Highly compressed, highly charged, each word matters. The challenge becomes how to say more with less. It's a good practice-this paring down-regardless of form. The writer must ask: is this word necessary? How does this word or image or piece of dialogue do more than one thing?
Short shorts invoke the craft elements of fiction: character and character development, imagery, plot, rising action, a turn or shift toward the end. Yet given its length limitation, it must inhabit this large world by implication and subtext. The finished story, when done well, is quite stunning. Like looking at a raindrop and seeing the entire ocean.
Causes Nina Schuyler Supports
National Resources Defense Council