Short fiction is any fiction that isn’t a novel. I know you think that isn’t very helpful. I know. Short fiction can vary from a single sentence to what isn’t a novel. So, you ask, what’s a novel. Unfortunately, my answer is, anything that isn’t short fiction. Fiction is a continuum. We define novels by their length, but the story isn’t confined to one of those. Think of it this way, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a single story. It’s three books, but one story. The stost took three books to tell.
OK, I know I confused you. I’ll try to explain. Some stories can be six words long. These stories are hard to write. You need to put a beginning, middle, including conflice, and in six words. The middle must have some kind of conflict. This is a six-word story: War came, he left, didn’t return. It’s not a particularly good story, but it is a story.
Next up is the dribble, which is a story told in fifty words. After that, you get the drabble which is a story told in a hundred words.
Microfiction aka, nanofiction is a story told in three hundred words or less. This form includes the drabble, dribble and six-word stories. Postcard stories are stories that you could write and send to someone on a postcard. It can be as much as five hundred words and as little as two hundred fifty words. This form often includes a image that relates to the text.
Sudden fiction is also know as short short stories. These are stories that are around seven hundred fifty to a thousand words. As often happens, though, some people put works that are up to two thousand words into this category. Microfiction and sudden fiction are collectively called flash fiction. Flash fiction doesn’t have a set length, but is usually a thousand words or less.
Now we come to the short story which is a story written in a thousand to seventy-five hundred words. These are the stories you find in collections, anthologies, or magazines. Novellets are stories that are seventy-five hundred to twenty thousand words. If the story is longer than twenty thousand but less than fifty thousand words, we call it a novella. It’s closer to a novel but written in a more concise fashion.
Remember, no matter what we call the work, if it’s fiction, it’s a story. It’s the story we want to tell. How many words you use is your choice and only your choice. If you want to write well, challenge yourself. Try experimenting with the shorter forms of fiction. You might find it satisfying to write drabbles. Sometimes the shorter the fiction, the harder it is to write. Take the challenge and try one of the shorter forms. Have fun with them and keep writing