Out with the old…
It’s a new year, YeahWriters, and that means new beginnings, new ideas, new perspectives, and new goals. I’m guessing a lot of us have the same goal for 2018: to write more. That’s admirable, but also kind of loosey-goosey. Let’s get specific. This year, my goal is to write weekly. Maybe that’s a personal essay for the nonfiction grid, or a poem for fiction|poetry (holy cow, did you see the new fiction and poetry prompts for the new year?!); maybe it’s making sure to get on the microprose grid every time it comes around. And you know what? Maybe not all my posts will hit the upper limit of the word count. Short-short essays and fiction have done very well on the grids recently. So throw out your old expectations and join me in sharing our tiny little stories wherever we can.
…and in with the new
This month we’re asking you for a brand new story in a very old genre: a fable in exactly 51 words.
A fable is a short story that features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as the main characters (with human traits, but not human), and that leads to a particular moral or object lesson, such as”a friend in need is a friend indeed,” “the early bird catches the worm,” etc. Many of us are familiar with the fables of Aesop, but the form exists in many different cultures, both ancient and modern. See, for example, the Japanese folktale The Two Frogs, numerous Australian Aboriginal stories, or the Indian Tales of Panchatantra. Franz Kafka’s A Little Fable is more modern example, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm could be considered a fable in novel form.
Here’s an example of a short fable by the famous Aesop: The Swallow & the Crow (courtesy of the Library of Congress):
The Swallow and the Crow had an argument one day about their plumage.
Said the Swallow: “Just look at my bright and downy feathers. Your black stiff quills are not worth having. Why don’t you dress better? Show a little pride!”
“Your feathers may do very well in spring,” replied the Crow, “but—I don’t remember ever having seen you around in winter, and that’s when I enjoy myself most.”
Moral: Friends in fine weather only, are not worth much.
For the purposes of the microprose challenge, your fable:
- Must feature anthropomorphized animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as the main characters.
- Must illustrate a particular moral.
- Must be completed in exactly 51 words, excluding the moral, which should be no longer than one sentence and may be added on (optionally) at the end with no word count penalty.
Some tips for keeping your fable within word count:
- Start with the moral. You don’t need to make up a new one; use your favorite old saying or words of wisdom, and go from there.
- Avoid excessively flowery language. (As opposed to Aesop above!) Simpler is better.
- Limit the number of characters in your story. Most fables have at most two or three.
- Choose specific verbs to replace adverb/verb combinations. (“Tiptoed” vs “walked softly”)
This is the badge you need:
Below is the YeahWrite badge you need for this month’s microprose challenge. Under the badge is a few lines of code. See that? Copy it and then paste it into the “text” or HTML view of your post editor. If you don’t copy it exactly, the image will not appear correctly in your post, and you will receive an error message when you submit the post to Inlinkz. If you have any questions regarding adding this code to your post or website, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need a hand?
Microprose sounds easy. After all, how hard can it really be to write a story with fewer than 100 words incorporating a prompt or two? But it turns out it’s our hardest challenge to really get right. Whether you’re a seasoned micropro or a brand new microwriter, it’s worth taking a minute to glance through the tips and tricks our editors have put together, like this quick refresher on what makes a micro great, or this one on how to incorporate mandatory prompts into adjudicated challenges. Make sure you make it to the vote this week: check your wordcount (we count those footnotes!) and prompts!
How to submit and fully participate in the Microprose Challenge
Basic YeahWrite guidelines: must be a fable told in exactly 51 words, excluding the optional moral/maxim. Your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday. You may enter only one microstory per weekly challenge.
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
- Please grab the code beneath the microprose badge in the body of this week’s post and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
- Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
- Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
- Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
- Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.
Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…
About the author:
After a long stint as a Russian scholar and composer, Christine rediscovered her passion for writing in 2006. She joined the YeahWrite team in 2014 as the microstory editor. A lover of beautiful stories in small packages, her primary focus has been microfiction; she also writes flash fiction, short stories, and the occasional personal essay, much of which has been posted to her blog, Trudging Through Fog. Christine was a 2015 BlogHer Voices of the Year award recipient and Community Keynote speaker. Her short fiction has been published by MidnightSun Publishing, and she is currently editing her first full-length novel.