|By OCAL, clker.com|
These days, you have to figure out your word count to define what you just wrote before you can submit it. Is it flash fiction, a vignette, a short story, a novelette, a novella, a novel? Is it one of a billion things I probably didn't think of when I wrote that list?
I've seen some confusion between flash fiction, short stories and vignettes. In fact, I've been confused on what makes a vignette versus a short story or flash fiction piece. So I decided to look into it and write a couple to try it out.
In general terms (with the understanding that different publications define them their own way):
Flash Fiction - There's a vast array of length definitions for flash fiction, but it is generally 1000 words or less. I don't think I've seen anything above 1000 words defined as flash fiction. Flash is also called a short-short, postcard fiction, and micro-fiction. Micro-flash is sometimes used as a term to define a super short piece of flash fiction (say, 100 words). Again, this is a general definition, that varies wildly between publications.
Short Story - Just as with flash, the length varies between publications. In general, we can say a short story is less than 10,000 words. Just to give you an idea. I've seen 2000-8000 words as a common basis in publications.
In both short stories and flash fiction, you are intended to write a full story, just with brevity. It's intended to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is meant to be some sort of character and/or story arc.
Vignette - Vignettes tend to be shorter, more like flash fiction lengths. However, the primary difference between a vignette and a flash piece is that a flash piece is still expected to have a beginning, middle, and end, just like a short story or longer work. But a vignette is more a snapshot in time, an idea, an impression or a moment in time versus a complete story that wishes to convey a story and/or character arc. It's a scene instead of an entire story. It can often be more elegant and descriptive, more intent to show an emotional sense than a story.
|By Hanna Ghermay, clker.com|
If you're curious about trying out the form, I highly recommend Vine Leaves Literary Journal to get a better understanding. You can read it free online, which is always a great way to get an understanding of a form of writing (read it, read it, read it!). While I don't pretend to be an expert on it, or even to have a full understanding of it, I'm working on it, and I find it interesting to write. It feels less restricted, and you can write what you feel instead of thinking it through too hard. Not a bad way to get into some writing mojo.
Have you ever written a vignette? Heard of one? Any publications interested in vignettes you'd like to pass along?
May you find your Muse.