Brevity is the soul

[The most sure-fire way not to get a blog post written is to mention that you are writing it. So this is not the post I talked about last time, either.]

The theme of this post is: one word, one story.

I’ve already mentioned our AE Micro contest where we’re giving a one word challenge to write one story. (Also in keeping with the “one” theme, there is one week left to do so.)

Today Robin Sloan kicked off another micronarrative exercise: Ash Cloud Tales. (OK, “ash cloud” is two words, but “micro” is a little less than a word, so let’s call it even.)

What I love about the idea of ash cloud tales is that they instantly take the mind into the future. Maybe it’s the way the concept was introduced, but the stories leap forward from the present mire. (“Stuck in Belgium. Mussels too damn expensive.” — We have Twitter and Facebook for that.) This project stretches the horizon of our attention from short-term inconveniences to long-term consequences.

I won’t get into all the possibilities “micro” can conjure. Just check out the entries so far and notice your focus shift toward the hidden, imperceptible, or merely overlooked. But I said I wouldn’t get into it, and I’m coming to the boundary of this virtual postcard.

In closing: Write short. Make it count.

About Helen

Helen spent ten years in the trenches of book publishing, where she wrote things longhand, wrestled with fax machines, and learned the true meaning of "cut and paste." As a writer, editor, and all-around person-who-builds-things-with-words, she now works at a small software company in Cambridge, Mass. with one foot in the future and the other stuck in a peat bog of legacy content, technology, and methodology. Which is not to say anything against peat bogs.

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