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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Peaslee

From Microfics to Novellas: The Different Forms of Short Fiction

When I started writing, I thought there were books and there were short stories, and that was it. Turns out it's a bit more complicated than that. Why? Because we're writers, and we like to complicate things—like plots and life.


So, what are the categories of short fiction? Read on to find out! (Except for poetry. One day I'll have someone write a guest post on poetry.)


 

Microfiction

Writing a microfic means telling your story in as few words as possible. You will not find a cohesive answer on how long a microfic is; different markets will have different parameters. Roughly speaking, microfics are between 100-500 words, but they can be smaller.


Drabble

A drabble is a type of microfiction. It is exactly 100 words. To make things fun, there are similar stories.

Dribble—a story in 50 words
Double Drabble—200 words
Trabble—300 words
Pentadrabble—500 words

Do quadrabbles exist? Apparently not.


Six-word Story

Another type of microfiction, and exactly what it sounds like. The most famous of the six-word stories is "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." The author is unknown—you might think it's Ernest Hemingway, but that is a popular misattribution.

Flash Fiction

Broadly speaking, any story that is under about 1,500 words. Again, some markets will have different parameters.

Short Story

Longer than a flash fiction, shorter than a novelette, a good old-fashioned short story is roughly 1,000-7,500 words. Once you go over that mark, you start hitting novel-ish territory.


Novelette

A novelette is an adorable word for a story that runs between 7,500 and 17,500 words.


Novella

The novelette's more sophisticated sibling. A novella is between 17,500 to 50,000 words. Anything over 50,000 (some say 40,000) words is a novel.


 

Annnnd there you have it! The categories of short form fiction, explained. As you can see, there's a lot of leeway. Don't stress about it!



Go forth and write (or read)

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