bestmicrofiction 2024

From our Best Microfiction judge in 2024, Grant Faulkner.

The following are excerpts from The Art of Brevity by Grant Faulkner (University of New Mexico Press, 2023).

Flash communicates via caesuras and crevices. There is no asking more, no premise of comprehensiveness, because flash fiction is a form that privileges excision over agglomeration.
Flash allows stories to capture the running water of the everyday. Suddenly, the strain of music heard faintly from the next apartment becomes the reason for a story itself. 
Brevity allows us to get close to the unsayable, to know something that is beyond words or the wordless moments words bring us to.
Brevity is a tool and an experience. It’s a way of being, and, as such, it helps us live.
Life isn’t a round, complete circle—it’s shaped by fragments, shards, and pinpricks. It’s a collage of snapshots, a collection of the unspoken, an attic full of situations you can’t quite get rid of.
The brevity of flash is perfect for capturing the small but telling moments when life pivots almost unnoticeably, yet profoundly.
The beauty of a firefly’s light is not how it illuminates the world, as the sun does, but in how it illuminates the darkness. Sometimes it takes the smallest of things to open up the biggest of spaces.
Each line of a miniature story must carry a symbolic weight that moves the story forward. Yet, at the same time, the gaps within and around the story speak as largely as the text itself.
The magic emerges because of the limitations of the form. Without constraints, we might not feel the piquant pressure that pushes us to find exactly the right word.
In looking for what to prune, you become more attuned to a story’s contours. You feel the story in ways you didn’t before.
The thresholds of white spaces in a work build emotion, ask questions, and speak their own sort of dialogue.
The short form is an invitation to question the definition of plot.
Brevity allows the rags and detritus of the everyday to become gems and jewels. Precious because they might go unnoticed otherwise.
The small has its own language, its own special timbre.
Each word is a single note, gaining meaning from the concerto it finds itself in, its resonance never static, never inert.
A writer of brevity has to paint characters in deft brushstrokes, with the keenest of images in such limited space, in order to capture their essence.
A fragment has edges, cracks, seams, and sutures. By being broken apart, it possesses new boundaries, existing in a liminal state.
Think of it like a planarian, a flat worm that, if you cut it into pieces, will grow back into a worm. The fragment is both unto itself and connected to something larger. It’s always growing.
To read such pieces, especially miniatures, you have to adjust your gaze, put on a different mental lens. You have to allow for incoherence and distortions and disconnections. You have to give up your expectations of what a story is supposed to be.

The Art of Brevity at Bookshop.org

Here are some excerpts from The Art of Brevity recently published on Grant's Substack: