History That Never Was

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Story Types

Woodland structureBecause of weird gaps and other oddities in my schedule, I’ve been writing a lot more flash fiction. Flash is always an interesting exercise for me, because I have a tendency toward stories that are too big, rather than very small stories. So it’s a bit of a challenge for me sometimes.

One of the things that has helped me as I’m writing flash is to look at the MICE Quotient, originally developed by Orson Scott Card, but widely consulted by other authors as well. This breaks down stories into four different types, and elaborates on what each type of story does.

If you read through the entire page on the Mice Quotient, you’ll note a bit at the bottom that talks about the fact that any story can be retold as any type of story. The important thing to note, though, is that if you start your story promising a certain type, you have to follow through on that promise, or the story won’t work for readers.

There’s also an idea that you can nest the different types of stories, but doing so leads to longer stories. For my flash pieces, I try to pick out just one of the types and work within its strictures, rather than trying to layer them. More often than not, I go for the character or idea stories, as both of those (in my mind) lend themselves well to flash stories. But I feel like I should branch out, too, and many try some milleu or event stories that are flash!

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