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Make every word count with micro-fiction

February 02, 2012

Make every word count with micro-fiction

How long does it take to tell a complete story? For students who love to write, many think the more words the better. However, the ultimate is for writers to communicate succinctly and clearly. Every word counts.

Micro-fiction is a genre that requires a specific word count. It’s a perfect genre for middle and high school where students need to write efficiently. Help students hone their narrative writing and make their stories more sophisticated by challenging them to write shorter, rather than longer pieces while still including the necessary elements of fiction: problem, climax, and resolution.

Have students create plot maps/pre-writes where they plan all the required elements of a story. But then ask them to incorporate all those essentials into as few words as possible, creating short stories.

Short stories, also called “flash fiction,” include different word-count options. Visit 50-word stories to view an online collection. (NOTE: Tim Sevenhuysen, the site’s administrator, seeks to keep the content appropriate and would be open to teacher and student submissions.) Use a few online examples as anchor papers for student writing assignments. Then challenge students to try their hands at different lengths using the same story idea. Can they write one in 50 words? 25? How low can they go? It’s like writing limbo!

To give students practice with this genre before turning them loose with their own story ideas, ask them to write a brief 50-word plot summary based on a recently read novel.

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